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.

Binance Acquires Crypto Debit Card Issuer for an Undisclosed Sum

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance has acquired cryptocurrency debit card issuer Swipe for an undisclosed sum, in a deal that gets the platform one step closer to issuing its Binance Card.

Finance Magnates reports the firms shared revealed the companies will “work together to further mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies,” by further bringing fiat and digital assets together. The deal will allow for cryptos to be used as a payment method in the traditional financial system.

Binance unveiled its plan to launch a Visa crypto debit card earlier this year, but was having difficulties implementing it. The acquisition of crypto start Swipe should help fix these difficulties and support the exchange in its “mission of making crypto more accessible to the masses.”

Per Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, off-ramps are a key component to be considered in its mission. He added:

By giving users the ability to convert and spend crypto directly, and have merchants still seamlessly accept fiat, this will make the crypto experience much better for everyone.

Binance and Swipe listed each other’s native tokens as part of the deal. Binance now has trading pairs for Swipe’s SXP token, while the Binance Coin (BNB) was added to the cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and fiat currencies available as a payment method on Swipe.

Swipe, it’s worth noting, converts cryptoassets into fiat currencies at the point of purchase. Users pay in a cryptoassets of their choice, which is then converted into fiat currency the merchant receives, so the latter does not have to manage cryptoassets, or accept payments in them directly.

Swipe’s cards are issued by Contis Financial Services, a visa Principal Member regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. They are available in 31 countries within the European Economic Area, and support transactions in euros, pounds, U.S. dollars, Korean won, and Philippine pesos.

The firm’s CEO Joselito Lizarondo revealed partnering will Binance will “place Swipe in the position to make cryptocurrencies more accessible for millions of users worldwide.” Binance Card users will be able to get up to 4% cashback in bitcoin on their purchases, which will be available in over 50 million locations in the world.

Featured image via Pixabay.