IBM Data Says Cybercriminals Are Replacing Ransomware and Malware Attacks For Cryptojacking


Hackers are always trying to find the most profitable ways to steal money from people online. Because of this, their attacks evolve together with the technology. If hackers used to send emails with simple viruses attached to them before, now they are using a lot more methods, including using other people’s computers to mine crypto.

One of the largest tech companies in the world, IBM, has made a recent new study about the subject called the annual 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. What the study reveals is that the increased security measures against some kinds of attacks are making hackers ditch ransomware in order to make cryptojacking attacks.

Cryptojacking is the act of installing a miner in the victim’s computer in order to hack it and use its computing power to mine cryptos. Obviously, the cryptos go directly to the attacker while the victim often suffers from its computer being too clogged because its CPU and GPU are being used to mine cryptos.

The reports affirm that the number of cryptojacking attacks got very high as the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed to around $20,000 at the beginning of 2018. Even the most low-effort attacks started to be profitable because of this and the attackers used what they learned to keep attacking after the prices started to fall.

This trend, IBM believes, will continue in 2019 and this type of attack will reach more victims as there is a clear shift away from ransomware happening right now.

Wendi Whitmore, the director of IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence, has affirmed that these trends show that there is a return on investment for cryptojackers. This may be due to the fact that ransomware and similar attacks are harder to pull off now as the security was improved but cryptojacking is very new.

Also, while ransomware attacks are obviously easily detected, people can have their computers infiltrated and used for mining for a very long time before they finally discover that something is actually happening to them.

The reports show that the criminals are quickly learning how to use several new tools in order to make their attacks more effective and that their sophistication is on the rise, as well as their effectiveness.

Also, some economies like North Korea and Eastern Europe have people that discovered crypto mining to be very effective, so the hackers from these regions are using it to take money from other people this way.

North Korea, specifically, had groups of hackers that used to mine Monero from the victims’ computers. As the nation is not in good terms with the West, these attackers can easily be unpunished as nothing will be done to stop them from acting.

For more information, you can read the official report here: https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach/threat-intelligence

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