Since the development of BitCoin, cryptocurrencies have seen a tremendous surge in popularity. In fact, in recent months, the value of all the major cryptocurrencies currently available has spiked, fueling even greater interest and speculation.
That growing interest is also fueling something else: the marked increase of currency mining software clandestinely installed on an unwitting user’s machine.
This is a very different kind of attack.
Traditionally, a hacker will attack your machine in order to breach your network and gain access to sensitive company data.
What a cryptocurrency miner wants, though, is your processing power.
The way it works is this. All the cryptocurrencies currently in the wild today use some variant of the “mining” concept to create more of their currency. People can download software, install it on their machines and at every X-interval, a new unit of the currency will be born, and credited to the miner who “unearthed” it.
This, of course, is where your PC or other internet connected device enters the picture, because why stop at just the machines owned and controlled by the hackers themselves? If they can infect 100,000 or more computers and put them all to work, quietly mining for currency, then that’s money in the bank for them.
This is the reason we’re now seeing a dramatic rise in such attacks.
In 2013, there were less than half a million such attacks over the course of the entire year.
By last year, that number had risen to nearly two million, and so far in 2017, the number is already at 1.65 million and at the current rate of infection, 2017 stands to handily beat out last year’s total.
While not as directly threatening as other forms of attacks, such an infection can dramatically degrade the overall performance of your network, so it’s certainly not something you’d want to let stand, which means your IT department has yet another threat to keep a watchful eye out for.