Bitcoin mania reached an all-time high Dec. 6 when the value of the digital currency leapt by 40 percent in just 40 hours, surging past $16,000.
It’s been quite the ride over 2017. At the year’s start, the cost of a Bitcoin was still less than $1,000. By October the cryptocurrency reached $5,000, which doubled by late November and has continued to skyrocket since.
The most recent spike could be attributed to Wall Street organizations signaling their plans to enter the market. At its present price, the total value of all Bitcoin in circulation is about $300 billion.
Bitcoin Attracts Cybercriminals
Bitcoin historic rise has corresponded with an increase in cryptocurrency malware and other cybercrime. Cybersecurity firms are now cautioning against increased threats from cybercriminals they believe are cashing in on the unprecedented success.
According to software firm Malwarebytes, it has blocked 250 million attempts to install cryptocurrency-mining malware onto PCs in a single month. Criminal minds have hacked into websites and emails to install malware that harnesses the processing power of individual computers, smartphones and other electronic devices to mind cryptocurrency.
The danger of cybercrime posed by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is higher than ever before. According to a recent report from the U.K. government, National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing 2017, the rise is demonstrated in three primary ways:
- Digital currencies encourage victim payment through malware and ransomware to almost untraceable cybercriminals.
- Cryptocurrencies are becoming a preferred payment method between criminals to purchase illegals goods and services online.
- Digital currencies are frequently laundered to disguise cybercrime proceeds, creating cybercriminal financial flows on the dark web.
Between May 2016 and July 2017 there were 1,584 reports referencing digital currencies, a number that is increasing by the month. Those risks are expected to grow even more as cryptocurrencies become a sustainable and mainstream payment method.
Cybercrime in 2017
2017 has turned into a year of great advancements for cybercriminals. In fact, the vast amount of wealth hijacked by cybercriminals now approaches the total losses incurred by U.S. robberies for all of 2015, an amount the FBI determined was about $390 million.
2017 also saw an increase in the scope of financial institutions that cybercriminals have targeted. Cybercriminal groups hacked into banking systems, e-money networks, capital management frameworks, cryptocurrency exchanges and even casinos with the goal of withdrawing enormous sums of money.
So, 2017 saw an increase in cybercrime, all while bitcoin continues to surge. So what can we expect in 2018 and beyond?
2018 will become the year of malicious web mining. According to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, the continued rise in number and value of cryptocurrencies will inspire cybercriminals to use more advanced techniques to create even more. The targeted attacks on web companies will be designed to install miners, and the trend will soon spread around the world in 2018.
Web mining is cryptocurrency mining technique used directly in browser with a special script installed on a website. Attackers have already proven how simple it can be to upload such scripts to a compromised site and engage users’ computers in mining activities, adding more coins into criminals’ wallets.
New miners will rely on their ability to access a free and stable source of electricity, leading to a rise in “insider miners,” employees of government agencies and manufacturing companies that will mine on publicly- or company-owned computers.
Ransomware attacks force users to buy cryptocurrencies to regain access to their networks, servers and databases. Ransom demands are typically made in Bitcoin because it’s a secure, often untraceable, method of making and receiving payments — a perfect currency for those who want their financial activities to remain hidden. Increasingly, analysts say, targeted companies are choosing to cough up and move on.
Victims of the WannaCry ransomware assault, for instance, saw a basic message on their screens: if you want to see your computer files again, pay us $300 (£230) inside the next 72 hours and we’ll unlock them for you, no questions asked. The malware automatically between computers with outdated security patches, and hundreds of thousands of users at a plethora of organizations, including the NHS, an automobile factor in France and an Australian railway, were impacted.
Historically, ransomware attacks – such as 1989’s Aids trojan horse virus – an innocuous-looking email containing a malicious link would provide hackers with entry into a system when clicked. But payment methods were limited. The Aids trojan horse, for example, threatened to encrypt files if a ransom of $189 wasn’t mailed to a PO Box in Panama.
Bitcoin eliminated those limits. The digital currency holds two main benefits for cybercriminals:
- It is a decentralized currency, so individuals pay each other without a bank or other processing institution in the middle.
- It provides the highest levels of anonymity. Bitcoins are accumulated and stored in virtual wallets identified by only a number.
Ransom payment demands are generally for a reasonable and affordable amount, making them likely to be met. But the cybercriminal sends it to thousands – or more – so those meager ransoms quickly accumulate to great profits.
The ransomware industry has become so attractive to cybercriminals, in fact, that cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes found that 40 percent of companies surveyed globally were targeted by ransomware.
Financial Institution Attacks
Because the largest financial institutions invest heavily in cybersecurity resources, their infrastructures are not easy to hack or attack. That doesn’t stop cybercriminals from trying, however, and the meteoric rise of bitcoin is only escalating those desires.
Because financial systems based on blockchain and cryptocurrency do not exist autonomously, vulnerabilities and errors in blockchain implementation can enable attackers to earn money and disrupt the work of a financial institution.
A common target in the coming year is likely to be software vendors that supply banks and other financial organizations. These vendors generally carry far weaker protection levels compared to the banks they serve. Attackers simply replace or modify updates to various types of software, including that used in ATMs and PoS terminals, in order to infiltrate financial systems.
Cyberattacks already targeted systems running SWIFT — a major player in the world’s financial ecosystem. Attackers used malware to infiltrate financial institutions and manipulate programs responsible for cross-border transactions, making it possible to withdraw money from any financial organization in the world. An assortment of banks in more than 10 countries have already been attacked.
via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2j5wUza