Kaspersky Labs Report Shows Criminals Are Turning Away from Ransomware to Cryptojacking

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A new report has found that malicious actors are turning their attention away from ransomware to cryptojacking.

In recent years, the cryptocurrency market has become a hot topic, attracting more people keen to make a profit from it. Consequently, this has meant that criminals are eager to get involved as well.

In a new report from Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cybersecurity firm, it found that the total number of users who encountered ransomware fell by around 30 percent from nearly 2.6 million 2016-2017 to around around two million in 2017-2018. According to the report, this is because ransomware attackers are searching for more profitable means such as cryptojacking.

The study also showed that the proportion of people who were targeted by cryptors, which encrypt’s a user’s data, fell by around three percent to 41.5 percent in 2017-2018 compared to the previous year. Yet, in the same time, crypto malware rose by almost 44.5 percent.

“While ransomware can provide cybercriminals with potentially large but one-off rewards in a turbulent landscape, miners might make less money out of their victims, but through a more sustainable/longer-term model,” the report states.

With more people embracing the crypto market, so too are cybercriminals embracing the number of victims they can target. According to Kaspersky Labs, victim numbers is key. This is illustrated by the fact that in 2016 the number of PCs targeted by illicit miners was 1.87 million. By the end of 2017, that figure had jumped to 2.7 million.

The number of PCs hit by crypto miners saw its true spike in the summer of 2016. Throughout the remainder of the year encounters rose at a steady rate, resulting in more than 400,000 hits a month, the report shows. In 2017, those numbers rose to 600,000.

Users attacked by mobile miners also increased, but at a steady rate. It grew by 9.5% from 4,505 in 2016-2017 to 4,931 in 2017-2018. According to the study, it suggests the mobile mining is an emerging threat targeting developing countries. However, while it adds that mobile mining may not be worth considering, the growth rates indicate that this is an area that needs careful monitoring.

Countries the cyber security firm is concerned about are China and India. It believes that these two nations are key targets for criminals as they account for around a third of all smartphones in the world.

“The population of these countries will therefore be particularly vulnerable if smartphone mining really takes off,” the report added.