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Cryptocurrency mining malware attacks, which infected over five million people in the first three quarters of 2018 alone could be entering your systems via pirated software and content. Malicious cryptocurrency mining is the biggest threat to internet users in 2018, leaving behind ransomware which had been most prevalent over the last few years. The findings come from a new report by Kaspersky Lab.

Crypto Mining Now Bigger Than Ransomware

Illegal crypto mining is now a bigger threat to the users than ransomware attacks. In 2018, the number of malicious crypto mining attacks grew by over 83 percent as compared to 2017. In the three-quarters gone by, over five million people were attacked with crypto mining malware. During the same period in 2017, about 2.7 million people were affected by the attacks. According to Kaspersky, the installation and use of unlicensed software could be one of the major drivers of these activities.

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The number of malicious cryptocurrency mining software attacks increased steadily in the first half of the year, but they reached a peak in March when over 1.2 million users faced such an attack.

The Kaspersky Lab researchers also inquired the factors that could be leading to this global threat. They found that neither the cost of electricity nor cryptocurrency legislation has a significant impact on the malicious crypto miners. However, they found that most systems were infected because the users installed pirated software or unlicensed content.

Malicious Crypto Miners Don’t Care, but Users Should

Kaspersky Lab security expert Evgeny Lopatin commented on the rise of illegal crypto mining attacks, saying:

“Our analysis of the economic background of malicious crypto-mining and the reasons for its widespread presence in certain regions revealed a clear correlation. The easier it is to distribute unlicensed software; the more incidents of malicious crypto-miner activities were detected. In short, an activity not generally perceived as especially dangerous, the downloading and installation of dubious software, underpins what is arguably the biggest cyber threat story of the year – malicious crypto-mining.”

The attackers don’t give two hoots about the region, electricity costs or any other adverse effects it may have on the victims. All they are concerned with is stealing others resources for their own gain. Therefore, users must be proactive to ensure that they remain safe from such threats.

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