Business Cyber Attacks Escalate While Cryptojacking Drops 26% In Q3 2018 - Malwarebytes

David Hundeyin
  • Data from cybersecurity company reveals 55% spike in data theft and ransomware deployment targeted at businesses
  • Report also shows that cryptojacking has fallen 26% due to the persistent bitcoin bear market which makes mining less profitable

Cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes has revealed that cybercriminals are modifying their tactics in favour of targeting businesses over individuals, which comes alongside a 26 percent fall in recorded cryptojacking incidents in Q3 2018.

In its quarterly ‘Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques’ report, the firm provides insights showing that cybercriminals appear to be paying more attention to big business and their treasure trove of priceless data rather than spending time and effort on individuals.

Report Overview

The report showed a 55 percent rise in criminal online activity targeted at businesses, a hefty increase over Q2 2018. To put that figure in proper context, such detections only increased by 4 percent for individual consumers.

When placed side by side, businesses and consumers showed a 5 percent increase in detections from Q2 to Q3, which may be attributed to the growing popularity of data-theft malware strains called “Emotet” and “LokiBot” which target bank services and steal valuable information.

Summarising its impression of the Q3 2018 cybersecurity threat space the report states:

After a sleepy first two quarters, cybercriminals shook out the cobwebs and revved up their engines in Q3 2018. With cryptominers and exploit kits maturing, ransomware ramping up with steady, sophisticated attacks, and banking Trojans experiencing a renaissance, we’re having one heck of a season. Attack vectors were at their most creative—and most difficult to remediate—especially for businesses

Fewer Cryptojacking Incidents Recorded

The report contains some positive news regarding the menace of cryptojacking, with the data showing that the number of cryptojacking incidents recorded a hefty 26 percent fall as bitcoin took a substantial hit in the market. For cybercriminals, this effectively made unauthorised cryptocurrency mining a less profitable activity compared to data theft and ransomware attacks.

This is in line with an earlier situation in October 2017 when cryptojacking skyrocketed as the price of bitcoin embarked on its record breaking bull run, only to fall considerably after the bitcoin price peaked and started falling.

Malwarebytes also revealed that malicious mining still remains very easy to detect and block. According to the report, it is in fact the case that “staying safe from miners has never been easier.”

An excerpt from the report reads:

As a result of a year-long onslaught of [cryptocurrency] mining, many vendors now specifically target mining software as potentially malicious. Consumers should be less worried about getting infected with miners and more concerned with banking trojans and spyware.

Bitcoin Hashrate Reaches All-Time High, As BTC Halving Event Approaches

Bitcoin’s (BTC) hashrate recently reached an all-time high according to data from Blockchain.com, a leading London-based block explorer service.

Bitcoin network’s hashrate, which represents the amount of computing resources being dedicated towards providing security for the cryptocurrency’s blockchain (among other uses), has been climbing steadily in the past few months.

Higher Hashrate Suggests Increased Interest in Mining Bitcoin

Available data from June 19, 2019 shows that Bitcoin’s hashrate currently stands at around 65.19 trillion hashes per second (TH/s). Notably, the BTC blockchain’s hashing power began to increase significantly as the pseudonymous cryptocurrency’s price crossed the $9,000 and then $10,000 mark.

In addition to improving the security of the Bitcoin blockchain, a higher hashrate indicates that the overall interest in mining BTC has surged - presumably due to the recovery made by the bitcoin price and also that of other major cryptoassets.

Hashrate May Be Used to “Hack Humans to Create Gold 2.0”

Commenting on the rising hashrate, Wall Street veteran and Bitcoin bull Max Keiser remarked via Twitter that an increase in hash power results in a considerable price increase for Bitcoin in most cases. Keiser believes that even some of bitcoin’s biggest supporters fail to understand the importance of hashrate.

The experienced financial analyst remarked:

[Hashrate can be thought of as] Satoshi’s ability to hack humans to create Gold 2.0.

Previous BTC Hashrate All-Time High of 60 TH/s Set in September 2018

Bitcoin’s recently recorded hashrate of over 65 TH/s is considerably greater than the previous all-time high of about 60 TH/s - which was achieved in September 2018. After reaching a new high last year, bitcoin’s hashrate had been declining steadily - as the cryptocurrency’s price also continued to plummet.

But after bitcoin’s value reached a low of around $3,150 in December 2018, the leading cryptocurrency’s price and also that of other major cryptoassets began to recover in 2019. Other key metrics used to assess the performance of the Bitcoin network have also shown marked improvement.

Less Than 16% of 21 Million Bitcoins Left to Be Mined

According to BitcoinBlockHalf data, there are only 3,220,350 bitcoins left to be mined as the Bitcoin protocol has algorithmically capped the maximum supply of BTC at 21 million. 

At present, there should be 17,779,650 bitcoins in circulation but analysts have estimated that nearly 4 million BTC has been lost due to account mismanagement - including users forgetting their private passwords to their crypto wallets.

Moreover, the Bitcoin halving is approaching (on track to take place on May 21, 2020), a critical event which reduces the number of bitcoins that can be digitally printed (from mining) by 50%. Several crypto researchers have noted that this is one of the most significant events in bitcoin’s relatively short history as the reduction in the BTC supply has had a notable impact on the crypto’s price.