McAfee reports 629% increase in coin miner malware in Q1 2018

There was a 629% increase in coin miner malware in Q1 2018, from around 400,000 total known samples in Q4 2017 to more than 2.9 million the next quarter according to the McAfee Labs Threat Report: June 2018. It recorded on average five new threat samples every second, including growth in cryptojacking and other cryptocurrency mining malware, and notable campaigns demonstrating a deliberate drive to technically improve upon the most sophisticate established attacks of 2017.It counted 313 publicly ..

“There were new revelations this quarter concerning complex nation-state cyber-attack campaigns targeting users and enterprise systems worldwide,” said Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee. “Bad actors demonstrated a remarkable level of technical agility and innovation in tools and tactics. Criminals continued to adopt cryptocurrency mining to easily monetize their criminal activity.”

Incidents in the healthcare space rose 47%, while attacks on education and finance went up by 40% and 39% respectively. In finance, the attacks were not always region specific, as was the case in previous years, but McAfee identified activity in Russia, and related reconnaissance efforts in Turkey and South America.

“Cybercriminals will gravitate to criminal activity that maximizes their profit,” said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer at McAfee. “In recent quarters we have seen a shift to ransomware from data-theft, as ransomware is a more efficient crime. With the rise in value of cryptocurrencies , the market forces are driving criminals to crypto-jacking and the theft of cryptocurrency. Cybercrime is a business, and market forces will continue to shape where adversaries focus their efforts.

The Lazarus cybercrime ring launched a highly sophisticated Bitcoin-stealing phishing campaign—HaoBao—which targeted global financial organizations and Bitcoin users. When recipients open malicious email attachments, an implant would scan for Bitcoin activity and establishes an implant for persistent data gathering and crypto mining.

While the total number of malware samples has grown 37% in the past four quarters to more than 734 million samples, the total number of malware samples grew 42% during the same duration. Global infections of mobile devices fell by 2% with Africa reporting the highest rate at 15%.