Hackers use 200,000 insecure Brazilian routers to mine cryptocurrencies

The attack exploits a flaw that was previously patched

CoinHive is a tool that allows web browsers to mine for cryptocurrencies in the background

Hackers are using a network of vulnerable routers to spread crypto-mining malware to unsuspecting users, security researchers have discovered.

An unknown cyber criminal (or possibly a network of cyber criminals) is using a flaw in more than 170,000 routers manufactured by MikroTik to run scripts on the computers of unsuspecting victims which mine cryptocurrencies for the hacker, according to TrustWave researcher Simon Kenin.

The attack uses a previously-discovered flaw - which has since been patched by MikroTik - to inject a mining script from CoinHive into the browser of anyone connected to an infected router. Most of the affected devices are located in Brazil, but Kenin warned that the attack has been observed in other places as well.

Another researcher, Troy Mursch, also observed a similar case in Moldova involving more than 25,000 MikroTik routers running CoinHive scripts. It is currently unknown whether the two attacks are connected.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

The security flaw that allows the routers to be exploited has now been addressed by MikroTik, but numerous devices remain unpatched. This is a big problem, Kenin explains, as MikroTik manufacture high-end equipment that is often used by ISPs, web companies and businesses.

"Let me emphasize how bad this attack is," he said. "The attacker wisely thought that instead of infecting small sites with few visitors, or finding sophisticated ways to run malware on end user computers, they would go straight to the source; carrier-grade router devices."

"There are hundreds of thousands of these devices around the globe, in use by ISPs and different organizations and businesses, each device serves at least tens if not hundreds of users daily."

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now



Hackers abuse LinkedIn DMs to plant malware

25 Feb 2019

Best free malware removal tools 2019

23 Dec 2019
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020