A few facts about cryptocurrency: transactions are anonymous, fast, super secure and cannot be reversed. What’s more, it’s become a popular method used to pay for digital transaction. It’s also become the focus of cyber criminals who have found a way to take advantage of it.
Bitcoin is one of the digital currencies we have heard the most about and, although there have been fluctuations in the Bitcoin market for several months, it still has a high market price. And because digital currency is not linked to any banking institution, and it can’t be traced, it has become increasingly appealing to cybercriminals.
“You can think of cryptocurrency like digital money. The difference is that it is not verified by any bank or nation state. Transactions are anonymous and untraceable, which is precisely why cyber criminals find it so appealing,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa.
We can see the impact that digital currency’s untraceability has made with the flood of ransomware attacks we’ve seen recently, with malicious actors demanding payment in cryptocurrency. This led directly to a rise in ransomware infections.
Hackers have even gone as far as upgrading older ransomware threats to target Bitcoin. A ransomware infection known as Cerber has been modified to target Bitcoin wallets as well as locking and blocking access to files. Effectively, the hackers pick-pocket the Bitcoin wallets.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in cryptocurrency mining, which is a system that rewards users with cryptocurrency for contributing to adding blocks to the blockchain ledger. Trend Micro has been aware of this and we’ve even identified malicious mining apps that have been in the Google Play store. The malware utilises the victim’s CPU for mining activities, which they are unaware of, and which ultimately benefit the hacker,” Siriniwasa explains.
Vigilance, as always, is key. A multi-layered security approach will also help to filter out malware that could potentially place your cryptocurrency wallet at risk, and prevent your device from being used in cryptocurrency mining. Trend Micro’s XGen protects your physical, virtual and cloud workloads.
“Cryptocurrency looks like it’s here to stay and if you’ve invested in it, it’s wise to ensure that your currency is protected. We need to apply the same mindset to our virtual assets that we use for our physical assets,” says Siriniwasa.