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Hackers are targeting businesses with 'cryptojacking' schemes, report finds

The number of cryptojacking threats hit a new high in January

Cryptojacking concept
Photo (c) BitsAndSplits - Getty Images
A new report from SonicWall shows that cybercriminals have increasingly been trying to break into the computer systems of financial institutions to install ransomware and mine for cryptocurrency. 

This type of cyberattack -- also known as "cryptojacking" -- has increased exponentially in the first half of 2022, with attempts rising 30% year to date. Experts say financial institutions saw a huge spike in these attacks -- with attempts rising by 269%.

In cryptojacking attacks, criminals use malware to gain access to computer networks. They then use the system's computing power to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin -- a process that typically requires investing in costly state-of-the-art equipment and consumes vast amounts of electricity. The victim is often unaware of the intrusion.

Cryptojacking follows a pattern

While such an increase in cryptojacking activity is obviously concerning, it’s actually a lot better than it looked at the beginning of the year. In January, cryptojacking volume reached 18.4 million – a new monthly high that exceeded the previous record of 15.5 million in March 2020.

Cryptojacking activity has cooled off a bit in recent months, but researchers say that good news could be temporary.

“While falling cryptocurrency prices may have a lot to do with this, keep in mind that what we’re seeing follows a well-established pattern,” SonicWall analysts said. “Every year since SonicWall began tracking cryptojacking, researchers have recorded significantly higher cryptojacking volumes in Q1 than in Q2, resulting in the “cryptojacking summer slump.” 

While these scams may have subsided to some degree, consumers who work for companies that may be targeted by these schemes should remain wary. Always be skeptical of emails or messages that contain potentially malicious links that could give hackers a way to infiltrate your device and your company's network. 

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