The worst thing about being a Bitcoin enthusiast, sometimes, is being associated with illicit activities.
One of the first sources of liquidity for Bitcoin was the Silk Road. People who otherwise might never have used Bitcoin were giving it a serious increase in value as they purchased it in order to buy drugs online.
Now, following ransomware, which associations Bitcoin with criminal hacking, cryptojacking does something similar.
Essentially, in a cryptojacking scheme, a user’s computer is taken over in the background in order to mine a cryptocurrency.
CPU mining may not be efficient in Bitcoin anymore, no matter how large a botnet you had, but there are other currencies, like Monero, where CPU mining is still very real.
Interpol Thwarts Hash Pirates
Cryptojacking is a form of piracy: stealing computing resources. The problem is widespread around in parts of the world, and recently, global law enforcement decided to get involved with something called Operation Goldfish Alpha.
According to a press release from Interpol, they identified a vulnerability in a brand of routers called MicroTik. This vulnerability was responsible for over 70% of the cryptojacking taking place in Southeast Asia.
Interpol wrote, in part:
Based on data from police and partners in the cybersecurity industry, INTERPOL identified a global cryptojacking campaign facilitated by the exploitation of a vulnerability in MikroTik routers. Intelligence was developed and disseminated via Cyber Activity Reports to the affected member countries.
One of the partners in the security industry were, of course, Trend Micro, who wrote, in part:
That’s why we were keen to offer our assistance to INTERPOL during this year’s Operation Goldfish Alpha. Thanks to our broad global visibility into attack trends and infection rates, we were able to articulate the scale of the cryptojacking threat and key mitigation steps, at a pre-operation meeting with ASEAN law enforcement officers in June.
Cryptojacking is on par with ransomware in terms of nuisance and severity.