Millions Of Personal Computers Unwittingly Forced Into Cryptocurrency Mining By Hackers In 2017

There is some big money to be made in cryptocurrency mining, assuming the operation is large enough. That is especially true when the value of volatile digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum skyrocket, as both have done in recent times. Unfortunately, there are some undesirable side effects to the cryptocurrency boom—we all know about the shortage of graphics cards, but even more troubling is that some mining groups are exploiting PCs with malware for more firepower.

The situation is getting worse, according to Russian antivirus vendor Kaspersky Labs. A new report by Kaspersky claims that it has detected 1.65 million infected computers so far in 2017. By the end of the year, Kaspersky predicts that number will grow and exceed the 1.8 million total infections it logged in all of 2016. That includes more than just home PCs—servers are falling prey to cryptocurrency malware, too.


"Over the last month alone, we have detected several large botnets designed to profit from concealed crypto mining. We have also observed growing numbers of attempts to install miners on servers owned by organizations. When these attempts are successful, the companies’ business processes suffer because data processing speeds fall substantially," Kaspersky stated in a blog post.

The security outfit says culprits primarily turn to adware installers that are spread using social engineering in order to infect machines. To a lesser extent, they also use more sophisticated methods. One example is exploiting vulnerabilities such as EternalBlue, where the victim is a server. What makes this desirable is that servers typically offer up more power than a consumer PC.

Kaspersky has not crunched the numbers for all of the money that malware miners have made by illegally piggybacking on other people's PCs. That said, one of the digital wallets belonging to a botnet that it looked at contains more than $200,000 worth of cryptocurrency, Kaspersky estimates this particularly botnet is comprised of around 4,000 infected PCs.