A cryptocurrency botnet is continuing to spread amongst unprotected machines – and the software has even spread by hiding in innocent looking files such as images of Taylor Swift. Once a system is infected, a percentage of its CPU resources are then dedicated to mining the privacy cryptocurrency known as Monero. Unlike other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Monero mining can only be done with a CPU. And while each victim machine may only generate a few pennies worth of the cryptocurrency each day, the entire botnet itself is estimated to have earned its creators over $3 million since 2016.
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For those unfamiliar, a botnet is when a virus or similar software takes control over a large number of computers around the world by exploiting vulnerabilities in an operating system or software. The person controlling the botnet can then use it to earn an illicit profit such as by renting it out for distributed denial of service or DDOS attacks, or in this case, from mining cryptocurrency for a direct profit. This botnet ensures that it’s infected hosts only use a portion of their CPU for illicit purposes so as to reduce the chance that the software will be detected.
The cryptocurrency that this network mines, Monero, became famous for its extremely anonymous nature. This makes it almost impossible for authorities to track down who is responsible for the botnet and is profiting from it.
How To Protect Yourself From Cryptocurrency Botnets
The good news is that this type of botnet typically only works against what the research firm Sophos calls “low-hanging fruit” – meaning computers that are running outdated operating systems and that don’t have antivirus protection. This particular botnet seems to exclusively target Windows machines, with a special preference for those running SQL servers. That…