“With more power comes more responsibility“- perhaps this is the apt statement for the current state of bitcoin security. We all are aware of the decentralized power of cryptocurrencies but well said that if the hackers got the slightest clue about any security flaw in the system, it might prove to be dangerous.
As per reports, a leaked security flaw through the US government has paved the way for illegal crypto mining by the hackers. Notably, the statistics report from Cyber Threat Alliance released on Wednesday indicates that – there is 459% surge in mining activity in 2018 when compared to last year data.
The culprit behind this illegal mining activity is a tool named Eternal Blue which was basically used to exploit vulnerabilities in outdated Microsoft Systems software. This tool was allegedly stolen from NSA(National Security Agency) and leaked by the hackers last year. The gang named ‘Shadow Brokers’ is reportedly releasing many such tools thereafter.
Neil Jenkins, a chief analytics officer of Cyber Threat Alliance, stated that access to tools like these makes system vulnerable and “Hackers can sit back and watch the money roll in“. Also, he mentioned that with growing popularity this activity doesn’t seem to be slowing down anywhere. As of July this year, 85 percent of all illicit cryptocurrency mining has targeted Monero, according to the report. Bitcoin made up about 8 percent, while other cryptocurrencies accounted for 7 percent
How do hackers engage crypto mining in an illegal way?
Bitcoin being run on public blockchain requires a lot of computation power and with software like Eternal Blue, hackers can steal others computer resources for mining activity. Thus hackers illicitly generate currency using others’ computers, which creates free money for them and possibly erode the overall value of the currency by increasing its supply.
When NSA was asked to comment on this leak, they declined and stated that
The threat of illicit cryptocurrency mining represents an increasingly common cybersecurity risk for enterprises and individuals
Whether or not NSA accepts it, hacks like these might prove to be a threat to the crypto ecosystem. Also, the CTA team concluded that ‘Together, we can stop and keep them from succeeding in their goals.‘
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