Illegal cryptocurrency mining nets over $50 million in a decade, according to analysts

The cryptocurrency ecosystem has been a major target for cybercrime and illegal activities such as online theft and hacking. Cryptocurrency mining is essential for all coins, including Bitcoin [BTC] and Bitcoin Cash [BCH] and over the years, criminals have started to spot loopholes in the system to cash out digital currencies.

According to analysts Sergio Pastrana and Guillermo Suarez-Tangil, cyber crimes related to cryptocurrency mining generated more than $50 million over the past decade.

The pair of analysts examined over 4.4 million malware samples [about 1 million miners] over a period of twelve years stretching from 2007 to 2018. After the analysis, they found out that online fraudsters were able to make a profit of approximately $56 million, taking into account the cryptocurrencies that were mined and their prices at that particular time.

The fraudsters tracked down unsuspected users and hijacked their respective computing processing power to quietly mine cryptocurrencies on their behalf.

Cybercriminals also used another mode of injection, which was too complicated to be caught by a common user. In this method, a mining code would be hidden inside a legitimate program product. Once the product was booted up, the secret code on the user’s computer would begin mining and the rewards would be transferred to the fraudster’s wallet.

It was found that Monero [XMR] had suffered the most in terms of the criminal mining activities and online frauds as it was repeatedly attacked because of its inherent characteristic of being one of the most anonymous digital assets ever.

Moreover, the study further revealed that more than four percent of the entire XMR tokens in circulation were the result of illegal mining.

Pastrana and Suarez-Tangil stated,

“Monero changed its algorithms twice in 2018. In each change, about 73% and 90% of the campaigns ceased their operations.”

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