Crypto-currency mining malware is wreaking havoc in Africa, an Israeli-based cyber security firm, Check Point, has said.
Its Global Threat Index released recently showed that on Apri l, Coinhive, Cryptoloot and XMRig were the top six malware incidents in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.
Crypto-currencies are becoming more popular in Africa as local conditions on the continent are conducive to adoption of the digital currencies. Several African countries suffer from rampant inflation. The number of unbanked people on the continent also makes cryptos a viable option in Africa.
According to crypto-currency marketplace Paxful, in Africa there are more transactions involving the transfer of goods, services and money facilitated through the platform in Africa, compared to the ?developed world? where many trade digital currencies speculatively for profit.
Thus, Check Point notes that cyber criminals are taking advantage of the popularity of digital currencies on the continent by deploying crypto-currency malware.
Check Point said last month, Coinhive ranked as the number one malware family in all three countries.
Country Manager for SADC at Check Point, Doros Hadjizenonos, said: ?All three are prolific crypto-mining malware, which, unlike other malware, hijack your system instead of holding it to ransom.
?While Coinhive leeches your machine?s computational resources to mine Monero crypto-currency when an unsuspecting user visits a Web page, Cryptoloot uses your central processing unit (CPU) or graphics processing unit power to add new transactions to the blockchain, thereby releasing new currency.?
Hadjizenonos added that XMRig is open source CPU-mining software used to mine Monero crypto-currency.
?At the end of the day, this might affect your business in one of two ways. Either the ......er?s mining operation will consume large volumes of power and leave a horrible surprise in your electricity bill, or the operation will overload the CPU of the infected machines, slowing down your hardware performance dramatically. This is because the malware will defer your machine?s critical tasks to keep the mining operation in progress,? he explained.
Hadjizenonos said because crypto miners are created to generate as much profit as possible, most will disrupt the day-to-day operations of a business.
?The worst part about crypto-mining malware, and what makes it so sneaky, is that it doesn?t need your consent nor rely on you to perform an action in order to make a profit. Take ransomware for example: ransomware relies on the victim to pay a ransom for the attack to be profitable. Similarly, banking Trojans, which steal bank account credentials, need you to first access your account so they can harvest your user name and password,? he said.
He, however, said crypto miners don?t need the victim at all. ?In fact, all they need is your browser to be up and running, and they?re in business, literally,? he said.
Cyber security firm Trend Micro points out that the popularity and increasing real-world significance of crypto-currencies are also drawing cyber criminal attention; so much so that it appears to keep pace with ransomware?s infamy in the threat landscape.