Cryptomining Malware Is Infecting Corporate Networks Worldwide

CORPORATE HIJACKING. Security firm Kaspersky Lab just exposed an international cryptocurrency mining ring that is using malware software called PowerGhost to spread across vast corporate networks. The malware is infecting anything from workstations to entire server farms, using corporate hardware to dedicate a portion of the computer’s power to mine a yet-unknown cryptocurrency.

Once a computer is infected, a script downloads the mining tool, which uses the hardware’s processing power to solve complex computational problems. The small amounts of cryptocurrency it mines gets sent back to the attacker’s wallet; the virus, meanwhile, launches a copy of itself to infect other computers connected to the same network.

RANSOM NO MORE. Previous analyses by Kaspersky Lab and security firm Skybox suggested that it is more profitable for cybercriminals — you know, the tinted sunglasses, hoodie-wearing type — to install cryptocurrency mining malware, rather than holding data hostage using ransomware. Browser-based cryptojacking attacks rose 80 percent in 2017, they found.

The difference between these two approaches is fairly simple: mining malware uses processing power of targeted machines — anything from workstations, servers, to even point-of-sales terminals, and people’s smartphones — to mine for obscure cryptocurrencies; ransomware simply locks people out of being able to access their data, threatening to bear their data for all to see. Unless of course, they pay a ransom. That’s how last year’s worldwide ransomware attack WannaCry worked.

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