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.

Libra Association Adds Three New Members, Including a Government-Owned Firm

Francisco Memoria

The Facebook-backed Libra Association has added three new members to the consortium, including one of Singapore’s two government-owned investment vehicles, Temasek.

According to ZDNet, the Libra Association added Temasek, and cryptocurrency investment firms Paradigm and Slow Ventures. The organization’s vice chairman and head of policy and communications Dante Disparte was quoted as saying:

The addition of three new members to the Libra Association, shows our commitment to building a diverse group of organizations that will contribute to the governance, technological roadmap and launch readiness for the Libra payment system.

Temasek entry’s in the organization is notable, and may reveal why the Libra Association has been prominently including the Singapore dollar in its plans since the beginning. Its initial version of a new cryptocurrency backed by a basket of fiat currencies included it next to the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the British pound, while its new version focusing on stablecoins also mentioned the currencies the same way.

According to Investopedia, Temasek manages investment funds on behalf of the Government of Singapore, and is estimates to have around SGD $313 billion (US $220 billion) in its portfolio. Through a spokesperson its deputy CEO, Chia Song Hwee, said:

Our participation in the Libra Association as a member will allow us to contribute towards a regulated global network for cost-effective retail payments. Many developments in the space excite us – we look forward to further exploring the potential of the technology.

The additions increase the influence of financiers on the Libra Association, making them the largest group within it and giving them nearly 30% of members’ control over the project. There are now a total of 27 organizations on the Libra Association.

Featured image via Unsplash.