Illicit cryptocurrency mining, or "cryptojacking," has become more popular among cybercriminals than ransomware, according to a report by Skybox Security.
In its mid-year update, the firm said that crypto miners now account for 32 percent of all cyberattacks, while ransomware only makes up 8 percent.
Cryptojacking utilizes code hidden on websites or devices to harnesses victims' computing resources such as their central processing unit and bandwidth to mine cryptocurrencies.
The Skybox report reveals a notable shift in the preferences of cyberattackers when it comes to choosing the tools of their illegal trade.
In the second half of 2017, Skybox found that the situation was almost exactly reversed. While ransomware attacks – in which the data on an individual's computer is encrypted by malware and only unlocked upon payment of a fee – made up 32 percent of all attacks, cryptojacking represented 7 percent of the total at the time.
While the reason for the swap in popularity may be partly down to the rise in price of cryptocurrencies at the end of last year, Skybox said the ransomware model was seeing diminishing returns as victims stopped paying up on reports that data was not being decrypted as promised. Increasing adoption of user protections, such as data backups and better protective tools, were also cited as a factor.
In the update, which was first reported by Computing, the company said:
"Cryptocurrency miners may be the new kid on the block, but they're taking over. With high-profit opportunity and a low chance of being discovered or stopped, this malware tool provides a money-making safe haven for cybercriminals."
Hacker image via Shutterstock