Despite Bear Market, Crypto Mining Malware Tops Threat Index for 13th Month Running

Three strains of crypto mining malware have topped the latest Global Threat Index from Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point, according to a press release published on Jan. 14.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. is a security solution provider for governments and enterprises globally, with over 100,000 organizations reported to be currently using its security management system.

As reported, stealth crypto mining attacks — also known as cryptojacking — work by installing malware that uses a computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrencies without the owner’s consent or knowledge.

According to Check Point’s Global Threat Index for December 2018, the top three most wanted malware strains were all cryptojacking-related — with Coinhive, a web browser-based Monero (XMR) mining code — sealing the top spot for the 13th consecutive month.

Ranked second and third respectively, XMRig is reportedly an open-source CPU mining software for XMR mining, whereas Jsecoin is a JavaScript miner that can be embedded in websites, marketed to site owners as an alternative form of monetization to advertizing.

While Coinhive is estimated to affect around 12 percent of organizations worldwide, XMRig reportedly has a global hold of 8 percent, closely followed JSEcoin at 7 percent.

As reported, multiple security researchers have underscored that cryptojacking use continues to increase, notwithstanding the global cryptocurrency bear market. Last November, Russian internet security company Kaspersky Labs published an analysis which indicated that after the crypto market bull run subsided in January and February 2018, interest in cryptojacking also briefly tapered off — yet it nonetheless remained a consistent and current threat throughout 2018.

The analysts noted that a contributing factor to the popularity of cryptojacking could be the range of ready-to-use programs, open mining pools, and miner builders that are at attackers’ disposal.

Over 4 percent of Monero, whose privacy-focused characteristics contribute to its popularity as a coin of choice for covert mining operations, is estimated to have be mined illicitly, according to research published earlier this month.