Now this is interesting – with the rise of popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, it was only a matter of time until someone figured out that someone else’s PC processor can be used as their own Bitcoin mining slave. So the new CoinMiner trojan installs itself onto an affected PC computer and starts mining for Bitcoins. This results in a jump of CPU usage to 100%, reduced responsiveness of the operating system as well as increased electricity bills and Internet data traffic, slowing everything else down.
Up until this point, I’ve only seen the direct extortion like encrypting files and asking for ransom money for the decryption code. But this one actually mines for Bitcoins using your own CPU so it makes its own money so you don’t have to pay directly. How convenient. But I only wish that would be the the worst it can do.
Trouble is, you can never be too sure with these guys and it can do a whole lot worse, like – take control of your files and essentially do whatever it wants with them. Or take control of your Internet banking. Or credit cards. Or…
CoinMiner uses the exact same vulnerability like the recently active WannaCry malware used to get into a computer – already discovered and patched EternalBlue vulnerability affecting mostly unpatched Windows XP and Windows Vista computers. Sadly, too many people don’t take this seriously enough and they continue to use both Windows XP and Vista, even now when they have both been discontinued and security updates have stopped for a long time. Even worse, same people mislead themselves into thinking that they are protected if they install antivirus software. Recently – I also discovered that even the so called SafeZone web browser by Avast (also called Avastium) has its own security vulnerabilities by overriding some of the default settings of Chromium web browsing engine it uses. Installing antivirus on a compromised system can’t help much, especially today when antiviruses introduce vulnerabilities of their own – the case with SafeZone is not the only one, it is just one of the many.
These things are not going to go away. If anything – they will get only worse.
And the solution is so simple – just upgrade to the supported version of Windows (at the time of this writing – 7, 8 and 10) and do not disable automatic Windows updates. And of course, use some common sense when installing other programs on your computer (and update them regularly as well). How hard can it be, really?