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Protecting Family Employers From Cryptocurrency

A report published by Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA), a collaborative group of cybersecurity researchers, found that cryptocurrency mining malware has increased 459 percent since 2017.

Cryptojacking occurs when cybercriminals infect a computer with cryptomining malware so that they can use the computer's processing power to mine cryptocurrency for themselves. Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital currency. It only exists on computers, and not a central computer or server. It is distributed across a network of thousands of computers.

The exploit Eternalblue was used in the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks and has contributed to the rise in cryptojacking over the past year. The exploit takes advantage of a vulnerable Windows network file sharing protocol. Microsoft released a patch, but many Windows operating systems are still vulnerable.

Hackers are also modifying existing malware to mine cryptocurrency. For example, cybercriminals are using BlackRuby ransomware to mine Monero by adding XMRig software to. Hackers have also turned the Mirai botnet into an IoT-mining botnet. Aditi Hudli "Report Finds Cryptojacking Instances Jumped 400% In A Year" coindesk.com (Sep. 21, 2018).


Commentary and Checklist

The risk of malware continues to increase. Family employers and their staff must watch for signs of an infection and act immediately to remove malware.

If a computer starts running more slowly than normal, that could be a sign of cryptocurrency mining malware. It could also signal infection from another type of malware.

Train staff annually on cybersecurity best practices. Include information on how to prevent malware, how to identify an infection, and what to do if a workplace computer may be infected. Teach staff to never click on an unknown link or attachment in an email, visit a suspicious website, or click on a link contained in a pop-up.

Ignoring a possible malware infection gives hackers the opportunity to use your computer to spread malware, gather personal data, or mine cryptocurrencies. Disconnect from the Internet immediately and keep the device disconnected if you notice any signs of a malware infection. Don’t shut down the device because an IT professional may need for it to remain on. Staff should immediately tell a manager, who should contact an IT professional to remove the malware.

Have the IT professional try to determine how malware got on the computer in order to prevent future infections.

Here are additional to reduce your risk of becoming the victim of cybercrime:
 

  • Equip all computers with the latest security software and keep your protection up-to-date. Turn on full-disc encryption and routinely scan for viruses on all computers.
  • Install a firewall on any internet connection used by staff for work.
  • Backup data regularly and store it in a safe place.
  • Require staff to use strong, long, and unique passwords for all online accounts, and to password-protect laptops and devices.
  • Encrypt your Wi-Fi network and require staff to only use a secure Wi-Fi network if working elsewhere.
  • Only allow staff access to the data that they need to carry out their jobs.
  • Prohibit staff from keeping data when they leave. Have staff return any work devices and revoke their access to your online accounts and programs.
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