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Cryptocurrency mining malware has infected over 1.65 million computers this year

Graph of the increase in cryptocurrency mining trojans as measured by Kaspersky Labs. (Source: Bleeping Computer)
Graph of the increase in cryptocurrency mining trojans as measured by Kaspersky Labs. (Source: Bleeping Computer)
Data from Kaspersky Labs shows that the number of cryptocurrency mining trojan infections in 2017 has passed 1.65 million to date. Criminals use infected PCs to crunch transactions and route the success fee to their own digital wallets.

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Russian security firm, Kaspersky Labs, has been monitoring data on cryptocurrency mining trojans for seven years now. There has been a rapid increase in the number of infected computers over that time, and the total for 2017-to-date has already passed 1.65 million infected devices. This figure isn't far from surpassing the 2015 numbers and indicates that there will likely be more infections this year than in 2016, despite virus scanners attempting to find and remove these trojans.

While trojans are often used to try and sneak keyloggers onto systems to capture banking details or credit card information, a more consistent target for some hacking groups is to make their infected network of computers mine cryptocurrency (process transactions) for them.

Often they target currencies that allow anonymous transactions, such as Zcash and Monero, since some other major cryptocurrencies are only semi-anonymous. In the case of Bitcoin, all transactions are stored publicly, and anyone can monitor the balance and movements of any known Bitcoin address — which is how authorities tracked the transactions of the WannaCry hackers. The identity of the address owner is only anonymous until they perform an action that reveals their details, such as making a purchase.

The number of cryptocurrency trojan infections is likely to keep rising for the next few years due to two factors. First is that as the currencies themselves get more popular, they will become easier and more attractive methods of laundering money. Second is that this branch of trojan has a broad install base; in 2017 there have been significant cases of injections on all three of the largest operating systems — Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2017 09 > Cryptocurrency mining malware has infected over 1.65 million computers this year
Craig Ward, 2017-09-12 (Update: 2017-09-12)
Craig Ward
Craig Ward - News Editor
I grew up in a family surrounded by technology, starting with my father loading up games for me on a Commodore 64, and later on a 486. In the late 90's and early 00's I started learning how to tinker with Windows, while also playing around with Linux distributions, both of which gave me an interest for learning how to make software do what you want it to do, and modifying settings that aren't normally user accessible. After this I started building my own computers, and tearing laptops apart, which gave me an insight into hardware and how it works in a complete system. Now keeping up with the latest in hardware and software news is a passion of mine.