September 12, 2017

Over 1.65 Million Computers Infected With Cryptocurrency Miners in 2017 So Far

Over 1.65 Million Computers Infected With Cryptocurrency Miners in 2017 So Far

By Catalin Cimpanu
September 12, 2017 08:33 AM 0
Cryptocurrency mining malware evolution

Telemetry data collected by Kaspersky Lab shows that in the first nine months of 2017, malware that mines for various types of cryptocurrencies has infected more than 1.65 million endpoints.

According to Kaspersky, detections for cryptocurrency mining trojans rose from a lowly 205,000 infections in 2013 to nearly 1.8 million in 2016, and 2017 looks like it will easily surpass that number.

Zcash and Monero miners on the rise

Of all virtual currencies, Zcash and Monero were the favorites, primarily because of their support for anonymous transactions, which comes in handy to anyone looking to hide a money trail from criminal operations.

While Monero is a long-time favorite of cryptocurrency mining trojans, Zcash is a recent addition, as the cryptocurrency launched only last November.

Nonetheless, one month later, several criminal mining operations had adopted the currency, with one group's earnings estimated at $75,000/year/~1,000 computers.

A review of past major operations

Since last year, the rise in cryptocurrency mining malware distribution was easily observable by the number of reports put out by cyber-security firms. Such reports often help infosec industry observers to gauge new trends.

Below is a list with the most important malware distribution campaigns that pushed cryptocurrency miners in 2017.

⬗ Terror Exploit Kit dropped a Monero miner back in January
⬗ Even some Mirai botnet variants tested a cryptocurrency mining function
⬗ Adylkuzz cryptocurrency miner deployed via EternalBlue NSA exploit
⬗ Bondnet botnet installed Monero miners on around 15,000 computers, mostly Windows Server instances
⬗ Linux.MulDrop.14 malware mines for cryptocurrency using Raspberry Pi devices exposed online
⬗ Crooks targeted Linux servers via SambaCry exploit to deploy EternalMiner malware.
⬗ Trojan.BtcMine.1259 miner uses NSA's DobulePulsar to infect Windows computers
⬗ DevilRobber cryptocurrency miner became the second most popular Mac malware in July
⬗ Linux.BTCMine.26, a Monero miner that included references to Brian Krebs in its source code.
⬗ CoinMiner campaign that used EternalBlue and WMI to infect users
⬗ Zminer trojan found infecting Amazon S3 servers
⬗ CodeFork gang used fileless malware to push a Monero miner
⬗ Hiking Club malvertising campaign dropped Monero miners via Neptune Exploit Kit
⬗ A CS:GO cheat that delivered a Monero miner for MacOS users
⬗ Jimmy banking trojan adds support for a Monero miner
⬗ New Monero miner advertised via Telegram

These are only some of the major campaigns, but there are countless of other smaller operations that went unreported.

If you're wondering why is this rise in cryptocurrency mining malware taking place, the answer is quite simple. During the past year, trading prices for virtual currencies have skyrocketed across the board, almost for all major cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, Zcash, and others, have seen huge price spikes that have fueled market speculation and attracted both legitimate users and the criminal underground looking to make a quick buck.

I've copied this completely for the record as it forms the best evidence seen so far of the critical paper on Bitcoin's mining effects: Bitcoin & Gresham's Law - the economic inevitability of Collapse.

Posted by iang at September 12, 2017 10:57 AM

Yes, I started research in 2010 - 2012 that collected data on Botnets and GPU mining.

GPUs always lead to criminal groups controlling the system. ASICs can resist malware and can be managed better such that malware is not an issue, hence no botnets
100 ASICs (S9's) == a Botnet of 10 million hosts

So, the Botnet cannot win with ASICs
The Botnet ALWAYS wins with CPU/GPU as they do not pay power

Posted by: CSW on ASIC & GPU mining at November 14, 2017 07:19 AM

A GAMING SOFTWARE company has been slapped with a $1 million fine after secretly adding bitcoin mining software to a product update earlier this year.
Back in the spring, those 30 bitcoins were worth only a few thousand dollars, but at today's rates, it comes closer to $17,000.

The botnet's haul was so good because six months ago, serious gamers like ESEA's customers made excellent soldiers for a botnet army. Gaming machines have powerful graphical processing units that are pretty good at bitcoin mining. Since the spring, however, the bitcoin mining game has become a lot harder, and miners now use custom-designed chips to earn payouts on the bitcoin network.

Posted by: 2013 gaming company fined at November 14, 2017 08:49 AM

Craig S Wright
School of Computing and Mathematics
Charles Sturt University
Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

This paper looks at the economics associated with botnets. This research can be used to calculate territorial sizes for online criminal networks. Looking at the types of systems we can compare the time required to maintain the botnet against the benefits received. In doing this it will be possible to formulate economic defence strategies that reduce the benefits received through the control of the botnet. We look at the decision to be territorial or not from the perspective of the criminal bot-herder. This is extended to an analysis of territorial size. The criminal running a botnet seeks to maximize profit. In doing this they need analyse the costs expended and benefits received against the territorial size. The result is a means to calculate the optimal size of the botnet and the expected returns. This information can be used to formulate security strategies that are designed to reduce the profitability of criminal botnets.

Botnets, Economics, Game theory, Internet Security, Malware

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