Trend Micro, Inc., a global leader in IT security, advises the investing public to watch out for online schemes taking advantage of the hype around cryptocurrencies.
Digital currencies have become a hot investment and a valuable innovation in online commerce. At the same time, however, the innovation has become a new target for cybercriminals, according to Trend Micro.
“The hype around cryptocurrencies as an investment has emerged as another opportunity for cybercriminals to victimize people looking to make a fast buck,” Trend Micro Director for Technology Marketing Myla V. Pilao said.
“The technology behind cryptocurrencies is actually revolutionary from a cybersecurity standpoint because it allows digital information to be distributed without being altered,” Ms. Pilao noted.
A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions and control the production of additional units. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and Monero are some of today’s more popular digital currencies.
Cryptocurrencies are built on blockchain technology, a secure ledger of transactions processed and validated by a distributed network of computers or specialized hardware. This operation is run by “miners” who receive cryptocurrencies from vendors or merchants in return.
The inventor of Bitcoin created blockchain technology to prevent double-spending in the system. It is the first type of currency that is decentralized, which takes away control from central banks or government to inflate or deflate the value by manipulating the supply.
The value of cryptocurrencies has surged in recent years. The value of Bitcoin, the first decentralized digital currency and still the most popular, has jumped close to US$9,000 from below US$7,000 in just one week from February 5. It comes as no surprise that a growing number of crimes linked to cryptocurrencies has been observed.
Cryptocurrencies as baits
Just recently, attackers capitalized on the hype to market a dummy cryptocurrency called Sprite coin online.
Some users also were lured into an initial coin offering by downloading a wallet application that turned out to be a ransomware. Criminals successfully went after the victims’ files and demanded money in exchange.
As mining involves exhausting vast amounts of resources, meanwhile, Trend Micro has observed numerous cases of “cryptojacking” where attackers employ mining scripts into online advertisements and other websites.
Last month, Trend Micro discovered attackers embedding Coinhive web miners on Google’s online advertisement platform, DoubleClick, and were able to utilize victims’ computer resources to mine cryptocurrency without their consent.
In other cases, attackers hijacked public Wi-Fi networks by secretly embedding cryptocurrency-mining software on pages loaded through the Wi-Fi. Similar software was discovered on some video streaming and video conversion websites where users spend a lot of time.
“The security landscape is constantly evolving, as cybercriminals adapt to innovations and take advantage of the loopholes or vulnerabilities,” Ms. Pilao said. “In this light, enterprises and consumers must reevaluate their approach to security and remain a step ahead.”
Users must take caution against well-known schemes such as socially engineered links, attachments or files from suspicious websites, dubious third-party software/applications, and unsolicited emails, according to Trend Micro.
In cases of illegal mining, updating devices helps deter the ploy of cybercriminals. Securing the devices with passwords also makes them less prone to unauthorized access. In home networks, firewall of routers should be enabled.
“There is no quick all-in-one solution to cyberattacks, but we can always start with the best security practices to make our world safe for enterprises and consumers to exchange digital information,” Ms. Pilao said.
ABOUT TREND MICRO
Founded in 1988, Trend Micro initially developed antivirus software. Over the last three decades, it has become a market leader in hybrid cloud security, network defense, small business security, and endpoint security.
Trend Micro has the most advanced threat intelligence network in the world – Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™ – that is continually enhanced by big data analytics and machine learning, and bolstered by hundreds of Trend Micro security experts.
The company also offers products for homes and businesses. Trend Micro XGen™ security, in particular, provides a cross-generational blend of threat defense techniques against a full range of threats for data centers, cloud environments, networks, and endpoints.
XGen™ features high-fidelity machine learning to secure gateways and endpoints, as well as protects physical, virtual, and cloud workloads. It powers Trend Micro’s suite of security solutions: Hybrid Cloud Security, User Protection and Network Defense.