The price of cryptocurrencies may be surprisingly low right now, but it seems that cybercriminals are not giving up on the new technology. In fact, the number of malicious cryptocurrency miners skyrocketed in the third quarter of the year.
That’s according to a new report by Kaspersky’s cybersecurity experts. In its latest report, the company claims that there was a 230% increase in the number of cryptocurrency miner variants in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year. Compared to the third quarter of 2021, this number has tripled.
Taking this into account, over 150,000 different cryptocurrency miners used by criminals were identified in the third quarter of 2022 alone. According to the researchers, their profits can reach up to 2 BTC per month, which at current prices is about USD 32,000. Most of the time, cybercriminals choose monero, a privacy-oriented cryptocurrency that is almost impossible to track.
Distribution by pirates
To distribute miners, hackers use platforms to distribute pirated content such as movies, music, computer games, and commercial software. By impersonating miners as cracks, activators, and even the programs themselves, scammers are able to distribute miners to a wide range of victims.
Mining is a maintenance-intensive operation with low margins. To mine, you need the latest computer hardware, lots of electricity, and some bandwidth. With electricity costs rising and the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies dropping significantly, many legitimate miners are shutting down their platforms and waiting for more profitable days.
However, by capturing other people’s devices and electricity, criminals avoid initial installation costs and generate pure profit, while victims are left with weaker endpoints (opens in a new tab) and high electricity bills. Mining software is generally simple to compile and can also be acquired relatively cheaply on the dark web.