Hackers are now using botnets to mine cryptocurrency in an illicit manner, a new Kaspersky security bulletin reveals. According to Kaspersky Labs, a cybersecurity firm, malwares are increasingly targeting cryptocurrency.

Kaspersky Labs releases frequent security bulletins that update the technology space of current threats. In the latest release, the company noticed a reprofiling of botnets according to the value of cryptocurrency.

Kaspersky security bulletin links counterfeit software to infection risks

Interestingly, the hackers devote more resources to cryptojacking botnets than traditional malware. In particular, the botnets infect computers at work and at home, creating an undetected network of miners.

“Cryptocurrency miners that infect the computers of unsuspecting users essentially operate according to the same business model as ransomware programs: the malware harnesses the victim’s computing power to enrich the cybercriminals,” the bulletin reads.

Basically, the botnets take up to 80% of CPU power to generate digital assets. Unfortunately, it takes very long for the victims to realise the infection.

According to the bulletin, there was a higher allocation of botnets to mining crypto when prices were high. However, the numbers seem to drop as cryptocurrencies lose a bit of steam.

Interestingly, the firm notes that most of the affected countries do not have strict controls over counterfeit softwares.

McAfee Labs report

“Looking at the distribution of pirated software in countries with the highest number of miner attacks, one sees a clear correlation: the more freely unlicensed software is distributed, the more miners there are,” the report further states.

Therefore, it is more probable that botnets access victim computers with the help of pirated software.

Usually, the botnets get to infect the computers through adware and other pirated content. “Cybercriminals get help from ready-to-use affiliate programs, open mining pools, and miner builders,” the Kaspersky security bulletin says.

Interestingly, one of the highlighted botnets connects back to the reports in August of cryptojacking to mine Monero. According to the reports, a discrete crypto-miner CoinHive generated Monero worth over $250,000 from unsuspecting PC owners.

Further, the reports noted that the miner embedded itself in internet browsers where it discretely mined cryptocurrency. Another report by McAfee Labs revealed that hackers released 2.5 million new cryptojacking botnets in Q2 of 2018.