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Cryptominers continue to be the most prevalent malware during March 2019, says Check Point

April 10, 2019
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Check Point Research has published its latest Global Threat Index for March 2019. The index reveals that while cryptomining services such as Coinhive have closed down, cryptominers are still the most prevalent malware aimed at organisations globally.

Both Coinhive and Authedmine stopped their mining services on March 8, 2019. For the first time since December 2017. However, despite having only operated for eight days in March, Coinhive was still the sixth most prevalent malware to affect organisations during the month. At its peak, Coinhive impacted 23 per cent of organisations worldwide.

Many websites still contain the Coinhive JavaScript code. According to Check Point, Coinhive may reactivate if the value of Monero increases. Alternatively, other mining services may increase their activity to take advantage of Coinhive’s absence.

During March 2019, three of the top five most prevalent malware were cryptominers’ Cryptoloot, XMRig and JSEcoin. Cryptoloot headed the threat index for the first time, closely followed by Emotet, the modular trojan. XMRig is the third most popular malware.

As per Maya Horowitz, threat intelligence and research director at Check Point, “With cryptocurrencies’ values dropping overall since 2018, we will be seeing more cryptominers for browsers following Coinhive’s steps and ceasing operation. However, I suspect that cyber criminals will find ways to earn from more robust cryptomining activities, such as mining on cloud environments, where the built-in auto-scaling feature allows the creation of a larger haul of cryptocurrency.  We have seen organisations being asked to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to their cloud vendors for the compute resources used illicitly by cryptominers. This is a call for action for organisations to secure their Cloud environments.”

March 2019’s top three most wanted malware:

• Cryptoloot - Crypto-Miner that uses the victim’s CPU or GPU power and existing resources for crypto mining - adding transactions to the blockchain and releasing new currency. It is a competitor to Coinhive, trying to pull the rug under it by asking a smaller percentage of revenue from websites.

• Emotet – Advanced, self-propagate and modular Trojan. Emotet once used to employ as a banking Trojan, and recently is used as a distributer to other malware or malicious campaigns. It uses multiple methods for maintaining persistence and evasion techniques to avoid detection. In addition, it can be spread through phishing spam emails containing malicious attachments or links.

• XMRig- Open-source CPU mining software used for the mining process of the Monero cryptocurrency, and first seen in-the-wild on May 2017.

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