Cyber criminals have been less active installing crypto mining malware on computers, instead 2019 has seen a rise in the use ransomware. According to a yearly report from the security experts at Kaspersky, mining malware infections dropped 59 percent year-over-year. In 2019 cyber criminals infected over 2.2 million computers, against 5.6 million last year.
Even though there’s a drop in the amount of infected computers, cyber criminals are still very active. Every month mining malware is infecting between 250 and 300 thousand new computers.
Crypto mining malware takes over the computer power of random computers and uses it to mine cryptocurrencies. This is particular form of cyber crime is often referred to as cryptojacking. Despite the drop in cryptojacking activity, cyber criminals have become more sophisticated in their deployment. For example, they hide malware in audio files or in fake WordPress plugins.
According to data from Kaspersky crypto mining hackers are most successful in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. Even though countries like Russia, India, Brazil and China also have many mining malware victims.
Cryptojacking the masses
A major Russian botnet has been deploying cryptocurrency mining software. To do this they target YouTube and its 2 billion monthly users. They upload videos that resonate well with certain audiences, and provide links to trigger people. Upon clicking, software can be installed on the viewer’s computer.
These hackers focus on users from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakthstan. But by moving their criminal activity to YouTube, they could be looking for an expansion.
Ransomware popular with cyber criminals
At the same time ransomware is on the rise. All around the world cyber criminals have locked governments, hospitals and other major organizations out from their own computers and networks. Ransomware locks certain files, folders, computers or even entire networks. Only after a certain amount of for example bitcoin has been paid, they will unlock the computer.
Since April this year the amount of new ransomware has seen a dramatic increase. Kaspersky believes there have been 46 thousand new modifications of encryptors. The number of users attacked by encryptors was pretty steady, somewhere between 80 and 100 thousand per month. Again countries like Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Mozambique, Turkmenistan and Ethiopia have the most victims.
Also published on Medium.