Malicious actors are moving from ransomware to crypto-jacking, a leading cybersecurity firm reported Thursday.
Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cybersecurity company, said in a new report that ransomware attacks – where a malicious file locks a computer until a ransom is paid – have declined by nearly half as the perpetrators instead move to deploy crypto-mining malware instead. This is largely because crypto mining is now more profitable than ransomware, according to the report.
In a press release, Kaspersky explained that it compared data from April 2016–March 2017 with data from April 2017–March 2018. It found that ransomware that encrypts users' computers declined by nearly 44.6 percent from 2017 to 2018. In that same time period, crypto-mining malware rose by 44.5 percent.
Moreover, at the number of illicit mining instances jumped from 1.87 million in 2016 to roughly 2.7 million at the end of 2017, the company reported.
Kaspersky said that it expects these numbers to continue growing, particularly with the advance of mobile miners.
The report states:
"It is highly likely that the additional growth of mining will come at the expense of mobile miners. For now, they are growing, but at a very steady pace. However, once criminals find a technological solution that makes the profits from mining on mobile devices equivalent to those from mining on PCs, mobile mining will quickly become equal."
The report expressed particular concern for residents of China and India, which own roughly one third of all smartphones worldwide.
"While ransomware has provided a potentially large but one-off income for its cybercriminals, miners will provide a lower, but longer lasting one. Last year we asked what tips the scales for cybercriminals? Today, this is no longer a question. Miners will keep spreading across the globe, attracting more people."
Crypto mining image via Shutterstock