‘Cryptojacking’ attacks on financial companies increased in first half

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Hackers are increasingly targeting financial firms such as banks and trading houses with attacks designed to use their computer systems to mine cryptocurrencies, according to cybersecurity firm SonicWall.

The number of so-called cryptojacking attacks on financial companies more than tripled in the first half from a year earlier, SonicWall said in a report published Tuesday. The total number of such events rose by 30% to 66.7 million, the report found.

In cryptojacking attacks, criminals use malware to access computer networks and use that computing power to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin — a process that typically requires investments in expensive state-of-the-art equipment and consumes huge amounts of electricity. The victim is often unaware of the break-in.

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The financial sector suffered five times as many cryptojacking attacks as retail, the second most targeted sector, according to SonicWall. As more financial companies move their applications to cloud-based systems, hackers spread malware across corporate servers and other devices, or hijack Wi-Fi networks to gain access.

Part of the overall rise in cryptojacking is due to governments cracking down on so-called ransomware attacks, causing some cybercriminals to change methods, according to the report.

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“Unlike ransomware, which announces its presence and relies heavily on communication with victims, cryptojacking can succeed without the victim ever knowing about it,” the report said. “And for some cybercriminals feeling the heat, the lower risk is worth sacrificing a potentially higher payday.”

SonicWall noticed some encouraging signs. In the second quarter, the number of cryptojacking attacks fell by more than 50% from the previous three months, to 21.6 million. However, that trend follows a typical seasonal pattern with attacks slowing in the second and third quarters, only to pick up again in the last three months of the year, according to the report.

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Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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