By Mike Mimoso
In the not-so-distant past, cybercriminal use of cryptocurrency was largely limited to using Bitcoin or Monero as an anonymous means of collecting ransomware payments. Today, however, threat actors have discovered more direct ways of profiting off the yo-yoing valuation of various cryptocurrencies, which has profoundly impacted the underground economy.
In particular, threat actors have taken to infiltrating victims’ with malware dedicated to mining cryptocurrency to generate revenue. Cryptomining requires considerable computing power, and it is also time-consuming and resource-intensive. As such, threat actors have an incentive to hijack an often-unknowing victim’s central processor units (CPUs) or even faster graphical processor units (GPUs) to do so, reaping the profits of cryptomining while incurring little to none of the costs.
Threat actors also rely on cryptojacking to mine cryptocurrency. In these attacks, websites or digital ads are infected with a miner that runs in the victim’s browser. Streaming and gaming websites are particularly attractive to threat actors running cryptojacking schemes. While the miners aren’t necessarily malicious, these are hardly victimless crimes as computing performance degrades and electric costs often soar.
The decentralized nature of peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchanges also makes them a highly attractive place for threat actors seeking to launder funds, since the accountability and transparency measures adhered to by a number of larger centralized exchanges is not mandated, hindering law-enforcement efforts to track such activities.
Our latest research paper, Cryptocurrency Risks to Consider: From Cryptomining to Money Laundering, provides an in-depth examination of:
- The current state of the cryptocurrency threat landscape
- The risks cryptocurrency-related cybercrime poses to the public and private sectors
- Countermeasures organizations can implement to reduce their susceptibility to these threats
For the full Flashpoint analysis, download the report.