UK National Cyber Security Centre Lists Cryptojacking As “Significant” Threat

  • The UK's National Cyber Security Centre revealed cryptojacking is a cause for concern, and that it may become a legitimate source of income for website owners.
  • Cryptojacking has been growing in popularity among cybercriminals, and may affect a growing number of people in the next few years.

According to a report published by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) this week, cryptojacking will be categorised as a form of cybercrime in the UK, as it is now seen as a “significant” cybersecurity concern. Per the organization, it’s likely going to “become a regular source of income for website owners.”

Cryptojacking essentially sees cybercriminals use other people’s computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies. Often, criminals mine privacy-centric cryptocurrencies like Monero (XMR), both to avoid detection and maximize profits mining with CPUs.

In the NCSC's comprehensive report, activities like cryptojacking, the use of cryptocurrency within targeted cybercrime, and ransomware were added as cause for concern. Unlike conventional currencies, cryptocurrencies like Monero offer anonymity to their users, cutting off potential trails leading to the criminals’ arrest.

Cryptojacking On The Rise

According to the report, cryptojacking cases have been increasing in number since 2016. Research conducted in December 2017 showed that 55% of businesses across the world have been infiltrated by cybercriminals looking to use their systems to mine.

By 2018/19, it's believed that cryptojacking will expand and affect a fast-growing number of people and businesses across the world. The report goes on to demonstrate that there are already 600 websites operating in the UK using visitor CPU resources to mine cryptocurrencies. The document reads:

"The technique of delivering cryptocurrency miners through malware has been used for several years, but it is likely in 2018-19 that one of the main threats will be a newer technique of mining cryptocurrency which exploits visitors to a website."

NCSC report

The report further notes that when being cryptojacked, users may only notice a “slight slowdown in performance,” meaning some cases go undetected. Although most cases involve cybercriminals using people’s resources without their consent, some websites ask for user consent as an alternative to showing ads.

The NCSC, at the end of the report, advised users to protect themselves with ad blockers and anti-malware programs that block cryptojacking scripts. A few browsers, including Opera and Brave, have built-in tools that block cryptocurrency miners.

Cybercrime in the UK has increased over the past few years; from WannaCry to present, with a growing number of crimes taking place in the UK. According to the Office of National Statistics, the volume of cybercrime has risen by 63% compared to last year.

The monetary cost of the rising cybercrime attacks has provoked action; the cabinet office reported that, without countermeasures, cybercrime would cost British businesses and taxpayers up to £27 billion (~$38 billion) annually.

Basic Attention Token Will Be Listed on Crypto Exchange Gemini Later This Month

Digital asset exchange Gemini, which was founded in 2014 by the famous Winklevoss twins, announced on Monday (April 6) that it will soon be adding support for the trading of Basic Attention Token (BAT).

In a blog post published earlier today, Gemini said it will be allowing of BAT deposits into Gemini accounts starting at 09:30 Easter Time (or 13:30 UTC) on 24 April 2020, and mentioned that trading would "follow soon thereafter."

Here is how Gemini describes BAT:

"Basic Attention Token is the native currency token of the Brave Browser, which is built to provide a more efficient and effective mechanism for connecting and rewarding users, advertisers, and publishers.

"Brave blocks unsolicited ads and tracking by default and rewards users with BAT payments when they opt-in to view ads.

"Users can then directly or indirectly contribute BAT to the sites they visit while enjoying a faster, more secure browsing experience, all of which is accomplished without revealing a user’s browsing history or preferences.

"Brave and BAT were created by Brendan Eich, who developed the Javascript programming language and also is a co-founder of Mozilla."

This is the first time that Gemini is adding support for a new digital asset since December 2018 (when it listed Bitcoin Cash), and this move by Gemini will bring the total number of cryptoassets it supports to six (the others are Btcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Zcash).

Gemini pointed out that "BAT deposits to existing Gemini Ethereum addresses are not supported", and that instead, in order to deposit BAT, "you must first create a new Ethereum deposit address by logging into Gemini and going to the Transfer page."