Cryptocurrency mining attacks still major security risk, despite closure of Coinhive

Cryptojacking attacks can be executed in more ways than JavaScript files in browsers, and cryptocurrency mining is moving to cloud services, according to AT&T Cybersecurity.

How to tell the FTC about cryptojacking attacks Have you fallen victim to a cryptojacking website? If so, here's how to tell the FTC.

Times are relatively tough for hackers seeking to profit from cryptocurrency mining attacks, as the JavaScript-based mining platform Coinhive closed on March 8, citing a drop in the hash rate of the Monero cryptocurrency mined on the service, as well as the steep decline in Monero's valuation—presently trading around $50, down from an all-time high of $470 in January 2018.

Despite these setbacks, hackers are adapting to more creative ways of launching mining attacks, according to a new report from AT&T Cybersecurity (formerly AlienVault), which found that hackers are targeting cloud computing services, container platforms, and control panel packages of web hosting solutions.

SEE: Top cloud providers 2019: A leader's guide to the major players (Tech Pro Research)

In February 2018, hackers compromised the Kubernetes infrastructure on Amazon Web Services (AWS) of electric car manufacturer Tesla, mining for Monero. The report notes that "In the event of such unrestricted access, cryptocurrency mining is one of the least malicious outcomes to victim organization. For example, customer data and business operations could be at risk for theft or malicious modification."

Docker images in hosted on Dockerhub, the official container repository, have been found to host Monero miners. Meanwhile, ZDNet's Charlie Osborne reported earlier this month that vulnerability CVE-2019-5736, publicly reported in February, could be used to secure host root access from a Docker container, which, combined with an exposed remote Docker API, could lead to a fully compromised host.

The risks of browser-based cryptojacking have not evaporated. "There are Coinhive alternatives so the threat hasn't disappeared," AT&T Cybersecurity researcher Chris Doman told TechRepublic, "but we seem to be a long way from the days when Coinhive was popping up on all kinds of websites. I think we'll still see Coinhive style 'in-browser' mining kits in use against routers and websites."

For more on the risks of cryptojacking, see TechRepublic's coverage of why cryptojacking will become an even larger problem in 2019, and a new detection method to identify cryptomining and other fileless malware attacks, as well as Cryptojacking cyberattacks: Is the end now in sight? at ZDNet.

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