Ransomware on the decline as cryptojacking gains popularity: report

The crypto space continues to be haven for cyber criminals who are finding it a fertile area to conduct their nefarious activities. In fact, according to a report by Skybox Security, illicit cryptocurrency mining, or ‘cryptojacking’ as it is more popularly known, has become far more popular with cybercriminals than ransomware.

In an update, Skybox said that crypto miners are reigning supreme, accounting for 32% of all cyberattacks in the first half of 2018, while ransomware only has an 8% share. Cryptojackers often use codes that are hidden on websites or devices to harness victim’s computing resources such as their CPU and internet bandwidth to illicitly mine cryptocurrencies.

The report now reveals what seems to be a considerable shift in the preferences of these cyber attackers when it comes to choosing their tools to conduct their illicit activity. Incidentally, the report also reports that in the second half of 2017, the situation was in an exact reversal—with 32% of cyberattacks being ransomware, whilst only 7% were cryptojacking. Ransomware attacks are perhaps more complicated to effect since they involve encryption of a computer’s data by malware which is eventually unlocked by payment of a fee.

While the reason for the swap in popularity may be partly down to the rise in price of cryptocurrencies at the end of last year, Skybox said the ransomware model was seeing diminishing returns as victims stopped paying up on reports that data was not being decrypted as promised. Increasing adoption of user protections, such as data backups and better protective tools, were also cited as a factor.

“Cryptocurrency miners may be the new kid on the block, but they’re taking over,” according to the Skybox report. “With high-profit opportunity and a low chance of being discovered or stopped, this malware tool provides a money-making safe haven for cybercriminals.”

Incidentally another report reported a decline in cryptojacking over the past six months of the year, probably due to the decline in the prices of cryptocurrencies. The second quarter of 2018 witnessed a lull in cyber crime, although criminals continued to experiment with ransomware, according to Malware bytes Labs’ report.

Malware activity posted a decrease in both business and consumer categories in the second quarter, the report noted. But while the volume of activity was lower, the quality of the attacks was much higher. Malwarebytes Labs based its conclusions on data from April through June along with telemetry from its business and consumer products that are used in millions of machines.

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