Hackers are increasingly exploiting cryptojacking malware without needing active browsers

Crypto malware is quickly extending to non-browser applications, says Checkpoint

Bitcoin cryptocurrency mining

Hackers are quickly finding ways to launch cryptomining campaigns without the need for an active web browser, according to new research from Checkpoint.

The security firm's latest Global Threat Index has revealed a surge of cryptocurrency malware attacks, specifically an endpoint variant called XMRig.

First discovered in May 2017, XMRig has quickly become one of the most popular types of cryptomining malware among cyber criminals.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Between the date of discovery in May 2017 and March 2018, the malware had a 70 per cent increase in global impact. XMRig is so effective because it operates through end-points devices such as PCs and smartphones, rather than the web browser.

With it, crooks can mine the Monero cryptocurrency on apps that are running in the background instead of a web browser. These attacks normally go unnoticed.

As well as the rise of XMRig, the threat index reveals that Coinhive is still the most popular cryptocurrency mining script to get integrated into 'cryptojacking' malware, with it impacting 18 per cent of organisations.

The Rig EK 'exploit kit' came in a close second, scoring 17 per cent. The kit lets hackers exploit Flash, Java, Silverlight and Internet Explorer to launch cryptomining campaigns.

Meanwhile, Cryptoloot is listed as the third most wanted cryptocurrency malware. It harvests the victim's GPU or GPU power to mine cryptocurrencies.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Checkpoint has also ranked the most common mobile malware, with Android banking trojan Lokibot at the top of the list. With it crooks can steal important business information and lock people's phones

Triada, which is a described as a "modular backdoor for Android", is second on the list. The malware backdoor gives hackers superuser privileges over an infected device allowing them to download further malware. Hiddad, which repackages popular apps and sends them to third-party stores, is in last place.

The security research firm analysed the most exploited cyber vulnerabilities as well, with an Oracle remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2017-10271 sporting a global impact of 26 per cent, the SQL injection vulnerability at 19 per cent, and a Microsoft Windows flaw (CVE-2015-1635) at 12 per cent.

Maya Horowitz, threat intelligence group Manager of Check Point, said cryptomining campaigns have been a "success story" for cyber criminals.

"XMRig's rise indicates that they are actively invested in modifying and improving their methods in order to stay ahead of the curve," Horowitz explained.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Besides slowing down PCs and servers, cryptomining malware can spread laterally once inside the network, posing a major security threat to its victims.

" It is therefore critical that enterprises employ a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy that protects against both established malware families and brand new threats."

As interest builds around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, malware and hack attacks designed to illegitimately generate digital money are likely to become more prevalent in the cyber security world, something IT managers and security officers should take note of. 

Featured Resources

Preparing for long-term remote working after COVID-19

Learn how to safely and securely enable your remote workforce

Download now

Cloud vs on-premise storage: What’s right for you?

Key considerations driving document storage decisions for businesses

Download now

Staying ahead of the game in the world of data

Create successful marketing campaigns by understanding your customers better

Download now

Transforming productivity

Solutions that facilitate work at full speed

Download now



US court orders alleged Bitcoin inventor to split his hoard

28 Aug 2019

Bitcoin scam exposes the personal details of 250,000 people

1 Jul 2020

Encrypted messaging site Privnote cloned to steal Bitcoin

15 Jun 2020

What is blockchain?

2 Jun 2020

Most Popular


How to find RAM speed, size and type

24 Jun 2020
Policy & legislation

UK gov buys "wrong" satellites in £500m blunder

29 Jun 2020

UK to ban Huawei from 5G networks 'within weeks'

6 Jul 2020