McAfee Report Warns of Ransomware Resurgence as Crypto Mining Malware Rises 29%

Neil Dennis

Miners were among the worst hit in the cryptoasset industry by cyber crime in the first quarter this year according to the latest "Threats" report by McAfee Labs.

Meanwhile, users of Apple devices were singled out by CookieMiner, a malware that targets bitcoin wallet credentials. First uncovered in late 2018, the CookieMiner can also install covert cryptocurrency mining software onto Apple devices.

The cybersecurity firm detected a 29% rise in new coin mining malware since the fourth quarter 2018, and samples of new malware rose by 35%. Total coin mining malware samples increased 414% over the past four quarters, acording to data shared with CryptoGlobe.

Ransomware Attacks

More broadly, the report said that businesses were experiencing 504 new cybersecurity threats every minute, while there was a rise of 118% in new ransomware, after a small decline in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

The report said such attacks were taking a far more targeted approach, while "threat actors" found "more anonymous" methods of conducting criminal business. Indeed, there was much anecdotal evidence that perpetrators of these attacks were increasingly asking for ransoms to be paid into anonymous wallets in cryptocurrency. 

CryptoGlobe reported last week that businesses and public institutions in 23 Texas towns had been hit by ransomware attacks by hackers demanding as much as $2.5 million a time. Similar attacks had previously been reported in Baltimore and Lake City, Florida, with the latter paying the ransom demand of nearly $500,000 in bitcoin. 

"The impact of these threats is very real," said Raj Samani, McAfee chief scientist. He added:

It’s important to recognise that the numbers, highlighting increases or decreases of certain types of attacks, only tell a fraction of the story. Every infection is another business dealing with outages, or a consumer facing major fraud. We must not forget for every cyber attack, there is a human cost.