Police in Rui’An city in Zhejiang province arrested 16 suspects for colluding with Chinese computer maintenance firms to mine cryptocurrency by means of malware designed specifically to mine Siacoin from the affected device. It is reported that the suspects managed to infect more than 100,000 computers in internet cafes across 30 Chinese cities, profiting by 5 million yuan or $800,000.
It was reported that the developers of the malware marketed it to computer maintenance firms, who allegedly injected the malware into computers at internet cafes. Local news reports said that the profit from mining and selling Siacoin would be split among the hackers and their accomplices.
The presence of malware of some kind was suspected as early as July 2017, when internet cafes in Rui’An noticed that their computers were extremely slow. The computers were also using up 70% computing power just after restarting. Around the same time, the internet cafes also noticed a considerable hike in utility bills. Following these discoveries, owners reported to the authorities.
Most internet cafes in the city of Rui’An employed the services of the same computer maintenance firm, and so the police arrested the CEO of the firm last August, and a short while later it was reported that the CEO revealed information on the hackers.
The 16 suspects arrested does not address the entire issue of mining Siacoin. The malware has reportedly spread to cafes in 30 cities, hence the investigation is still going on, with over a hundred such maintenance firms being allegedly involved in the scam.
On Twitter, Embilysays reacts to the news:
“I’m not sure what it’s like in other places, but here in many internet cafes in Thailand (Or at least the more prominent ones), the computers get rolled back every 24 hours, which clears all the junk that users may download.”
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