With the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies, the attacks on crypto users quadrupled in the first quarter this year, as cybercriminals installed malicious programs called Miners to steal cryptocurrency from infected devices, a new report has shown.
The number of unique modifications of miners more than quadrupled from 3,815 to 16,934 in Q1 2021.
In total, researchers from cyber security firm Kaspersky discovered 23,894 new modifications of miners in the period.
Miners are often installed without users’ knowledge and then begin slowly siphoning off various types of cryptocoins and in some cases, the miners walk away with millions.
The number of Kaspersky users that encountered miners on their devices steadily increased as well, from 187,746 in January to 200,045 users in March 2021.
In total, 432,171 unique users encountered miners in Q1 2021.
“It’s too early to say for sure if the trend we’ve noted in Q1 2021 is here to stay. However, it does seem that the increase in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has sparked a renewed interest in miners,” said Evgeny Lopatin, a security expert at Kaspersky.
“If the crypto markets remains strong this year, it’s like we’ll continue to see more instances of users encountering miners,” he said in a statement.
Other notable trends included a decrease in the number of users encountering both mobile and PC banking Trojans and an increase in the number of modifications of ransomware Trojans — from 3,096 in Q4 2020 to 4,354 in Q1 2021.
Since miners are often distributed as “riskware”, they are not automatically blocked by security solutions.
“You may want to configure your security solution’s settings to block any ‘riskware’ programmes,” the researchers advised.
Bitcoin is currently hovering around $38,000 after touching a record high of nearly $60,000 just a couple of weeks ago.