Wherever there’s online activity, you can be pretty certain there’s a bad actor lurking in the shadows. So, it’s not really surprising that cybercriminals are siphoning off profits from the cryptocurrency mining industry.
As you already know, mining most cryptocurrencies requires a ton of computational power. In most cases, specialist equipment is needed or at least an extreme level of mathematical dexterity. Owing to these factors, most would-be miners arrive at the conclusion that mining simply isn’t profitable enough especially when considering the high overhead costs.
However, this is where mining botnets come in. These botnets are programmed to infect multiple devices and feed off the CPU power not only of desktops but IoT devices, servers, and smartphones as well.
They are a sustainable way of making a profit since they can go almost undetected on the victim’s device and quietly drain their computational power. The first thing you’d notice could be your computer fan kicking into overdrive or a large electricity bill at the end of the month.
Think of it this way. A bank robber might stake out the building and steal millions of dollars in one heist. But the kind of crime we’re talking about here is more like taking one dollar out of the wallets of hundreds of people over time.
Is using mining botnets really profitable then? Well, remember the Smominru mining botnet? That infected over 500,000 computers and mined over $3 million Monero before getting caught.
The Growing Problem
Alert Logic is a firm of cybersecurity experts that analyzes digital threats for their customers. Currently, they’re seeing that over 80 percent of all attacks being faced by their clientele comes from mining botnets. Using mining botnets is also known as “cryptojacking” and it’s fairly easy to get infected from one of these malware. For example, you could download some shady software or click on an ad unwittingly that secretly installs the botnet on your device.
Getting infected with mining botnets is not terribly serious, in the sense that they’re not there to steal your data or money–just your computational power. Obviously, you’ll want to get them removed, but it’s far less of a threat than ransomware.
For most companies, mining botnets can be detected with the right patch management strategies. They can also be detected and removed fairly easily by the system admin as their code is fairly straightforward for those in the know. For individuals, using an adblocker or certain plugins such as minerBlock or NoCoin can help.
The biggest detrimental impact that mining botnets can have on our devices is making them slow. However, in some cases, physical damage is also a possibility especially if the hacker ramps up the CPU performance too high. But in most cases, they’re fairly harmless.