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.

Bitcoin Prices Dip Following $2 Trillion Stimulus Deal By U.S. Congress

Michael LaVere
  • US Congressional leaders and the White House reached an agreement on a $2 trillion stimulus relief package.
  • Package includes $250 billion in direct payments to individuals making $75,000 or less. 

Bitcoin prices slipped on Wednesday following the announcement of a $2 trillion stimulus deal agreement between the White House and U.S. Congress. 

According to a report by the Financial Times, President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a stimulus package that would inject $2 trillion in new capital into the American economy. The decision was made to provide economic relief to businesses and individuals struggling from the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. 

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said, 

At last, we have a deal. The Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.

McConnell added the package involved a “wartime level” of investment into the nation in response to the viral outbreak. 

Full details of the package are expected to come later today when the deal is formally approved by Congress. A report by CNN claims the package includes $500 billion in loans for distressed companies and $250 billion in direct payments to individuals and families.  Individuals who earn $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income are expected to receive a direct payment of $1,200.

After the report came out the price of bitcoin dropped from a $6,900 high it hit earlier today to about $6,500. The flagship cryptocurrency is recovering from a two-day drop that saw it lose over 40% of its value earlier this year, that came shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. 

In the last 24-hour period, the price of bitcoin is down 2%.

Bitcoin's price performance in the last 24-hour periodSource: CryptoCompare

The U.S. stock market's flagship index, the S&P 500, is currently down by little over 1% after the stimulus was announced.

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