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Cryptojacking Attacks Skyrocket By 8,500% In 2017, With China Among the Hardest Hit

A meteoric rise in the value of bitcoin and most of its peers in 2017 triggered a cryptojacking gold rush, and China has become the No.1 most affected country by ransomware attacks in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), Volume 23.

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As the price of cryptocurrencies surged in 2017, cyber criminals have turned their attention to cryptojacking—–infecting and controlling the victim’s computer and processing power to mine cryptocurrencies— to have a steady and reliably revenue stream. The cyber security firm states in the report that cryptojacking on endpoint computers increased by 8,500 percent in 2017, and 1.7 million such attacks were detected in December alone.

Luo Shaohui, chief operating officer of Greater China at Symantec said in an interview with China’s National Business Daily that two-thirds of cryptojacking victims are individual consumers at present, but he predicted that enterprises or enterprise networks will become the major targets in the future.

If devices, like PCs and smart phones, are infected with cryptocurrency mining malware, the processing of data slow down, batteries get overheat,and in some cases, devices end in crash.  For enterprises, malicious mining software may lead to disruption on the internet, and cause a spike in cloud CPU usage, adding the costs.

“Bitcoin is no longer the hackers’ main target, and they favor more privacy-focused like Monero now.” Luo said.

Besides, Internet of Things (IoT) devices also fall prey to cyber attacks. The report indicates that the total number of IoT devices affected by attacks increased by 600% in 2017, which means cyber criminals can take advantage of these connected devices to mine cryptocurrencies on a large scale.

Symantec also found that 5.4 billion WannaCry attacks, which intends to cripple computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, were blocked globally last year, and the firm identified a 46% growth in new ransomware variants.

It is noteworthy that China is among the hardest hit countries by ransomware, becoming the No.1 most affected nation in the Asia Pacific region, and the second one in the world with a 10.1% growth in cyber attacks in 2017. In 2016, China ranked 16 in the list.

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