Cryptojacking Shows No Signs of Slowing Down in 2019

Cases of cryptocurrency mining and cryptojacking will continue to grow in 2019, as attackers target smart devices and home assistants to build cryptomining farms, according to ESET’s latest trends report.  Along with cryptomining, Cybersecurity Trends 2019: “Privacy and intrusion in the global village” details the predictions of top experts from the global cybersecurity firm, revealing the cybersecurity trends set to impact businesses in 2019.

Trend #1: Cryptomining continues to rise
Cryptocurrency mining beat ransomware in terms of media attention in the past year, and cryptojacking – the process by which a device is hijacked illegitimately – “shows no signs of slowing down,” according to ESET Senior Security Researcher David Harley.

Commenting on this trend, Harley said, “We can expect to see more coin-mining software attempting to remove competing coinminers on compromised systems in order to get a higher-calorie slice of the processing pie.”

Trend #2: Automation to advance social engineering campaigns
ESET asserts that 2019 will see an increase in cybercriminals’ use of automation and machine learning in attempts to collect more data so they can launch more personalized and sophisticated social engineering campaigns. While it is unlikely that cybercriminals will have access to the wealth of data stored by vendors, such as people’s regular shopping trips, they could employ web trackers that follow victims between websites or gather information from data brokers to form profiles.

Lysa Myers, ESET Senior Security Researcher, writes, “While some phishing and other fraud scams have certainly improved in their ability to mimic legitimate sources, many are still painfully obvious fakes. Machine learning could help increase efficiency in this area.”

Trend #3: Data privacy will make or break companies
In 2018, issues around data privacy and protection came sharply into focus following a number of high-profile cyberattacks, data leaks and privacy missteps, as well as the implementation of GDPR. ESET Senior Security Researchers Stephen Cobb and Lysa Myers commented that in light of incidents such as Cambridge Analytica, we are likely to see people searching for alternatives to the platforms such as Facebook that currently dominate. Given the importance of customer data to companies, individuals, and to cybercriminals, ESET argues that the ability to properly manage data privacy could decide which companies stay in business in 2019.

Trend #4: A move towards a global privacy law?
Following the implementation of GDPR, ESET questions whether the EU legislation is the first step towards a global privacy law, particularly as similar models start to appear in California, Brazil, and Japan. Considering this, ESET warns against dismissing privacy rights and data protection as an EU anomaly. The pressure to protect customers’ data and ensure the privacy of sensitive information is a global issue and will certainly encourage a move towards GDPR-style privacy around the world.

Trend #5: Attackers set their sights on smart home devices
An increase in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, as well as a rise in the number of devices connected to the internet, could mean that smart devices and home assistants become the entry point for attackers to build cryptomining farms in 2019.

We have already seen how cybercriminals have used IoT devices to launch major denial of service attacks, but as more devices become connected and engrained into people’s lives in 2019, attackers will continue to hunt for the devices’ vulnerabilities and use them to implement threats like scams, ransomware, and cryptocurrency mining more widely.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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