Cryptocurrency mining malware could potentially affect over 2 million computers by the end of this year, according to the analysis provided by Kaspersky Labs.
The report based on the data was published on technical support website Bleeping Computer. It says that over 1.65 million computers all over the world have been infected with Bitcoin mining malware since the beginning of this year.
According to the information provided by Kaspersky Labs, the number of computers running the cryptocurrency mining malware keeps increasing drastically every year. In 2013, when Bitcoin first started getting a significant amount of media coverage, only 205,000 computers were reported to be infected. The number continued to rise in the following years, even when cryptocurrency market cap wanted. In 2016, cyber attacks have hit an All-Time High of 1.8 million, fueled by the sustain advance of the markets. Should the current pace continue, over 2.3 million computers will be infected by the mining malware by the end of this year.
Hackers rely on the vast network of computers known as botnets. Cybercriminals can control these botnets without owners’ knowledge and permission because the mining software is being ran in the background. It is almost impossible for a regular user to notice that his computer is being exploited. The only sign of infection is a decrease in performance.
One of the known high-profile hacker attacks infected online-based Linux servers that weren’t protected with a password. Another one affected computers in Poland, using their processors to mine cryptocurrency. Earlier this year, cybersecurity experts discovered a large botnet that consisted of hundreds of thousands of Windows operated computers.
The Kaspersky Labs report stated that the majority of hackers prefers using Zcash and Monero, which isn’t surprising as these altcoins provide a fair amount of anonymity. Should one wish to exchange his illegally obtained coins, he will do whatever it takes to keep low profile.
Of course, cryptocurrency cybercrime isn’t limited only by mining malware. According to a blockchain-tracing firm Chainanalysis, between July and August of this year hackers gained $125 million from Ethereum-related attacks. The majority of such attacks happened via phishing scams, although exploits were still fairly common.
In order to detect a cryptocurrency mining virus, a user needs to either install an antivirus program or check his PC for suspicious process that use a lot of computing power.