Cloud crypto mining malware ‘has risen drastically’ in 2019

Cloud computing exploits up in 2019, as crypto mining usage declines: report

Cloud computing attacks using crypto mining malware have risen dramatically in 2019, according to a new report published Wednesday.

The report from Skybox Security found a stark increase in the number of cloud attacks, which effectively create thousands of infected virtual servers, deploying cryptocurrency malware at a scale far beyond the capabilities of most desktop attacks.

The report said that while the number of cloud computing attacks is considerably up, this corresponds with a decline in the number of desktop malware attacks, attributed to the greater efficiency and scale made possible by cloud attacks.

“Use of malicious cryptominers — cybercriminals’ overwhelming tool of choice in 2018 — has declined to just 15 percent of malware attacks, with ransomware, botnets and backdoors rising to fill the void,” according to Skybox Security researchers.

The report noted that the number of cloud attacks were up by some 240% since 2017, stating, “Vulnerabilities in cloud containers have increased by 46 percent compared to the same period in 2018 and by 240 percent compared to 2017.”

Researchers said majority of cloud attacks are powered by Amazon and Google cloud storage services, which are often unattended, and can be quickly spun to run malicious crypto mining scripts on a huge scale.

Marina Kidron of Skybox Security described the trend as “concerning.”

“Cloud technology and adoption has obviously skyrocketed, so it’s no surprise that vulnerabilities within cloud technology will increase…What is concerning, though, is that as these are published, the race is on for attackers to develop an exploit because launching a successful attack on a container could have much broader consequences,” Kidron explained. “Compared to other technology, containers can be more numerous and quickly replicated. The attack footprint could expand rapidly, and number of victims may be extremely high.”

The report found that the frequency and scale of the attacks is likely to continue to increase, with new vulnerabilities expected to be overwhelming for some companies.

“More than 7,000 new vulnerabilities were discovered in the first half of 2019 — that’s still significantly more than figures we’d see for an entire year pre-2017,” it noted.

Editor’s note: The headline of this article has been updated to reflect Skybox findings, which found that cloud container vulnerabilities (not attacks) are on the rise, while desktop crypto mining malware is on the decline.

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