Cryptojacking cases have dropped 16% in the first half of 2019, according to cyber security company Check Point. Their research has found that 26% of organizations worldwide had been infected by cryptojacking malware at some point, compared to 42% for the same period last year. The reduction can be put down to several factors, including the closure of cloud mining service Coinhive.
Hackers Abandoning Cryptojacking Practice
Cryptojacking, where a website is infected with a virus that uses the resources of the computer viewing it to remotely power cryptocurrency mining equipment, was so popular that at the turn of the year Check Point declared it to be the most wanted type of malware. It became something of a global epidemic, but it seems that hackers are abandoning the practice in favor of more lucrative pursuits.
The reduction in cryptojacking popularity is chiefly because the endeavor is no longer profitable, with cryptocurrency valuations remaining so low it’s not worth the fees to pursue it. Many hackers utilized cheap cloud mining services like Coinhive, which became the go-to service or cryptojackers until it closed its doors at the end of February. This has left a whole host of infected websites, but cannot, at least, infect any more.
New Malware for New Targets
While the reduction of cryptojacking is of course good news, it doesn’t mean that the hackers have abandoned the practice altogether – they’ve simply changed tack. Many are, for example, using other crypto-mining malware like XMRig and Jsecoin to target enterprise and cloud computing resources. This has the potential to be far more lucrative and potentially easier to do, with one script able to infect a whole host of servers and computers.
There is also new malware looking to make a name for itself, such as DarkGate, which can steal credentials and passwords, perform file encryption, and engage remote-access takeovers. Cryptojacking may be gone, but what’s to come could be far worse.