Ransomware attacks escalate 118% in Q1 of 2019, report reveals

The August release of the McAfee Labs Threats Report revealed that the ransomware attacks and cryptojacking malware have witnessed a multifold increase in the first quarter of 2019.

Touted as the encrypted decentralized substitute to fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies have started to gain traction for their highly sophisticated and progressive designs. However, as avant-garde as the technology may seem, it is still vulnerable to deadliest forms of malware and ransomware attacks.

Cryptojacking and ransomware attacks on the rise

McAfee Labs Threats Reports offer useful insights into the institutional cybersecurity threats looming over the global business platforms. In its August edition, the report divulges that the cryptojacking malware, that illegally mines cryptocurrencies using users’ resources, has surged by twenty-nine percent (29%) in this year’s first quarter. 

Moreover, there is an alarming increase in the ransomware attacks, which show growth by a whopping one hundred and eighteen percent (118%). 

It has been established that the hackers target privacy-focused currencies, like the Monero or the Japanese Koto, for illicit cryptocurrency mining. Apple and Microsoft Windows users face the maximum risk, as the report sheds light on emerging cryptojacking malware families for both Apple and Windows machines.

Apparently, a crypto jacker called PsMiner, designed to steal Monero from Windows, uses PowerShell command to station its payload on a large number of Windows systems.

Meanwhile, a malware family targeting Apple systems, called CookieMiner, steals information such as the password and gains control of the machine to mine Koto. 

The hacking bots are programmed to explicitly place an attack on significant cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance, Coinbase or Bitstamp, illegally gain access to user accounts and mine cryptocurrencies.

Ryuk ransomware attacks highlighted in the report

McAfee’s report also mentions the widespread ransomware attacks carried out by the Ryuk malware family which were involved in hijacking the newspaper printing services in the United States and infecting computer systems of government officials throughout China, in the first quarter of 2019.  

By compiling extensive data in regards to the entities involved in cyberattacks and number of indictments made so far, McAfee Labs reports that only a minor percentage of attackers get caught while many are still at large and operational. Bitcoin, Monero, and Dash remain the most preferred forms of ransoms.

Indeed, for someone with low morals and a desperate need to make quick bucks, cryptojacking and ransomware attacks offer inexpensive and faster means to mine coins. With crypto jackers looking for new ways to up their game and encroaching on even the most secured hardware, will cryptojacking emerge as the next significant threat to the online world?