More cybercriminals are reported to have been observed going after cryptocurrency in March as compared to the previous month, according to Kaspersky’s Malware first quarter report. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
More cybercriminals are reported to have been observed going after cryptocurrency in March as compared to the previous month, according to Kaspersky’s Malware first quarter report. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Cryptocurrency hit by cybercriminals

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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MORE cybercriminals are reported to have been observed going after cryptocurrency in March as compared to the previous month, according to Kaspersky’s Malware first quarter report.

The report, from February to March 2021, found the number of unique modifications of miners more than quadrupled from 3 815 to 16 934. Kaspersky researchers discovered 23 894 new modifications of miners in the quarter.

Miners are malicious programmes designed to steal cryptocurrency from infected devices. They’re often installed without users’ knowledge and then begin slowly siphoning off various types of cryptocoins; in some cases the miners walk away with millions. While miners became a popular tool in cybercriminals’ arsenals beginning in 2018, their popularity had steadily declined over the course of 2020.

The number of Kaspersky users that encountered miners on their devices steadily increased as well – from 187 746 in January to 200 045 users in March 2021.

In total, 432 171 unique users encountered miners in the first quarter of 2020, the report found.

“It’s too early to say for sure if the trend we’ve noted in the first quarter of 2021 is here to stay. However, it does seem that the increase in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has sparked a renewed interest in miners. If the crypto markets remains strong this year, it’s like we’ll continue to see more instances of users encountering miners,” said Evgeny Lopatin, a security expert at Kaspersky.

Other notable trends from the report include a decrease in the number of users encountering both mobile and PC banking Trojans and an increase in the number of modifications of ransomware Trojans – from 3 096 in the last quarter of 2020 to 4 354 in the first quarter of this year.

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