As more business ventures and services are shifting the way they manage their business to prioritize the digital platform, the risk of cybercrimes has, unsurprisingly, gone up in recent years, and the numbers back up that premise.

One of the planet’s most famous online security firms, McAfee, released its August-2019-Threats Report this week, and one of the primary conclusions that researchers reached is that crypto-jacking has significantly increased in frequency and impact.

A Sizable Increase

The report states that crypto mining malware campaigns experienced an increase of 29% from the 2018 last quarter to the first one of 2019. According to the cybersecurity firm, the attackers did not discriminate between brands, as Apple MacOS and Microsoft Windows both suffered a rise in targeted attacks.

PowerShell, which is an interactive command line and automation engine that leaves administrative duties to the computer, was the primary avenue used by cybercriminals to target Windows devices. Implementing PowerShell means that any vulnerabilities in servers were exploited with the intention of mining the Monero cryptocurrency.

That attack, according to McAfee, had capabilities similar to those of worms, which let it jump between servers with relative ease.

Meanwhile, a malware program named CookieMiner was mostly implemented to perform this operation on MacOS devices. Cybercriminals were able to steal private account data that was on users’ computers. As a result, customers with personal accounts in exchanges and platforms such as Coinbase, Binance, Poloniex, Bitstamp, BitTrex, or MyEtherWallet suffered from data theft.

This week, famous news platform BBC reported a crypto-jacking virus that targeted Monero. The new threat had managed to hack a whopping 850,000 servers in total, the majority of them located in the Latin American region. French authorities were able to deactivate the primary server and migrate the threat to unused parts of the web universe.

New Ransomware Techniques Discovered

According to the report, ransomware attacks grew by 118%, and new ransomware families were detected. Actors and perpetrators also used innovative techniques.

“The 118% increase in ransomware attacks included the discovery of new ransomware families utilizing new, innovative techniques to target and infect enterprises. McAfee researchers observed cybercriminals are still using spear-phishing tactics, but an increasing number of attacks are gaining access to a company that has open and exposed remote access points, such as RDP and virtual network computing (VNC). RDP credentials can be brute-forced, obtained from password leaks, or simply bought in underground markets,” the report read.

“Where past ransomware criminals would set up a command and control environment for the ransomware and decryption keys, most criminals now approach victims with ransom notes that include an anonymous email service address, allowing bad actors to remain better hidden.”

In January, the McAfee Advanced Threat Research team was the first to discover a new ransomware family, Anatova, “designed to cipher all files before requesting payment from the victim. Anatova’s architecture is unusual in that it is modular, which could facilitate future development of ransomware.”

By Andres Chavez


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