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Crypto-mining Malware Doubles from Last Year

The number of global organizations affected by crypto-mining malware more than doubled from the second half of 2017 to the first six months of this year, according to new data from Check Point.

The security vendor claimed in its Cyber Attack Trends: 2018 Mid-Year Report that the figure rose from just under 21% in the second half of last year to 42% in H1 2018, with cyber-criminals making an estimated $2.5bn over the past six months.

Those behind the trend are getting more sophisticated in how they spread crypto-mining malware, according to the report.

Where once the main threat vector was a simple website compromise, today infections could come via Facebook Messenger, YouTube ads or Google Play apps.

“Crypto-miners today target anything that could be perceived as being in their way. As a result, we have witnessed crypto-miners targeting SQL Databases, industrial systems, a Russian nuclear plant, and even cloud infrastructure. Crypto-miners have also highly evolved recently to exploit high-profile vulnerabilities and to evade sandboxes and security products in order to expand their infection rates,” the report claimed.

“The mobile arena was not deprived of crypto-mining attacks either. Last April, an Android Cryptominer dubbed HiddenMiner targeted numerous devices, continuously mining Monero until the devices’ resources were drained.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top three most common malware variants spotted in H1 2018 were all crypto-miners.

Check Point also revealed that hackers are increasingly turning their attention to cloud storage and infrastructure, both in crypto-mining attacks and data theft.

Organizations are doing themselves no favors here by using weak passwords for their cloud accounts or even leaving credentials freely available on public source code repositories, the vendor added.

It claimed that 51% of organizations worldwide have experienced cloud-based attacks over the past year.

The report also pointed to an uptick in cross-platform malware, thanks to the rise in the number of consumer-connected devices and the growing market share of non-Windows operating systems.

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