A report from cybersecurity company SonicWall shows financial firms are now the main victims of so-called ‘cryptojacking’ attacks, following a 269 percent increase in the frequency of cyber-related exploits targeting the finance sector in the first half of 2022.
Cryptojacking refers to a cyber attack where a hacker uses malware to surreptitiously install crypto mining software on a victim’s computer, commandeering the computer’s resources to fraudulently mine crypto. It results in significantly degraded computer performance and high electricity costs for the victim.
Finance and Retail Sectors are Major Targets
In previous years, healthcare and education sectors had been the primary victims of cryptojacking, but that changed recently after what the report’s authors described as a “dramatic reshuffling” in 2022.
Global cryptojacking volume increased 30 percent compared to the first half of 2021. The financial sector has borne the brunt of the massive increase and it now suffers over five times more cryptojacking attacks than the second-placed retail industry, which itself saw a 63 percent increase in attacks year-to-date.
Last year, partly in response to the number of cyberattacks against domestic businesses, the Australian federal government introduced controversial, far-reaching legislation to increase its powers in the event of a high-risk security attack.
Cryptojacking Increase Related to Fall in Ransomware Attacks
The report argues the huge growth in cryptojacking can be partly attributed to a shift away from ransomware attacks by scammers.
Unlike ransomware, which announces its presence and relies heavily on communication with victims, cryptojacking can succeed without the victim ever being aware of it.2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report
“And for some cybercriminals feeling the heat, the lower risk is worth sacrificing a potentially higher payday.”
As mainstream adoption of crypto has grown, organised criminals have increasingly used the new technology to ply their illicit trade. A 2021 report from Chainalysis estimated US$33 billion had been laundered through crypto in the past five years.
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