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.

Crypto Market-Maker Altonomy Receives $7 Million in Funding from Polychain Capital

Altonomy, a New York-based cryptoasset trading, advisory, and asset management company, has completed a $7 million fundraising round from Polychain Capital, a leading hedge fund and venture capital firm.

Co-founded by Ricky Li, a former Manager of Research and Product at the CME Group, Altonomy has also received funding from 7 Blocks.

Additional Capital Will Allow Altonomy to Have More Inventory

Commenting on how the additional capital could help Altonomy’s business operations, Li said: 

As a liquidity provider for altcoins, more funding will allow us to have more inventory, taking larger exposure and managing risk more effectively.

Li added that the extra funding would allow Altonomy’s trading desk to provide better services - as the platform would not need to “put constraints” on customers at settlement.

Funds May Be Used to “Source Liquidity for Customers”

Olaf Carlson-Wee, the Founder and CEO at Polychain Capital, remarked:

As a long-time user of Altonomy’s trading services, it was an easy decision for us to invest in their business when the opportunity became available.

Carlson-Wee, a former Product Manager and Head of Risk at Coinbase, also mentioned that the additional funding would help “source liquidity for customers, regardless of token type, order size, market cap, or whether the asset trades on centralized or decentralized exchanges.”

According to Coindesk, Li had suggested to investors in January 2019 that they “liquidate enough ETH so they would have at least two years of runway.” However, Li is now anticipating that cryptocurrency prices may continue to recover - after enduring a long bear market that lasted throughout 2018.

Altonomy Introduces Cloud Service for Crypto Mining

In addition to providing crypto trading and asset management services, Altonomy introduced a new product last year, called the AltMiner. According to Li, AltMiner’s cloud service allows Altonomy’s bigger investors to mine various cryptocurrencies.

Altonomy’s management claims that the AltMiner has a “superior return profile” with the “newest generation of miners, low electricity costs and a secure hosting site.”

During an interview with CryptoGlobe in May 2019, Lee explained how Altonomy’s crypto trading services were developed and their potential benefits.

One of Altonomy’s main services, called electronic execution, allows mining firms, investment companies and crypto exchanges to “enter and exit positions as an outsourced execution desk.”

As a high-frequency market-maker, Altonomy also provides liquidity for various tokens to several crypto spot and derivatives trading platforms.