In less than a decade, cryptocurrency became almost mainstream. Many people are familiar with Bitcoin, which was the first decentralized digital currency. In fact, there are more than 10 different cryptocurrencies with a market cap exceeding 1 billion US dollars.

Some are very similar, but others significantly differ in the mathematical and computational properties of their implementation. As a direct result of that, there are major differences in the financial properties between cryptocurrencies. For example, some provide little to no anonymity, while others’ cryptographic properties assure you that no one will ever know the identity of one or even both sides of a transaction.

Technology that provides you with anonymity can be marvelous. TOR, for example, helps enable oppressed citizens to speak against their regimes without being prosecuted. However, the anonymity provided by TOR is often being used by cybercriminals, drug dealers and pedophiles. Cryptocurrency is a similarly wonderful idea, but unfortunately, the anonymity some digital coins provide is abused just like TOR.

Monero is the best example of a legitimate cryptocurrency widely that’s been adopted by cybercriminals. Unlike Bitcoin, it sports built-in completely anonymous transactions, and it can be efficiently mined on consumer-grade CPUs.

The first property saves criminals the need of complex inefficient money mules, as they can simply pay directly with their loot without being afraid that the payment can be traced back to them. The second one makes almost any PC worldwide a potential moneymaker, mining Monero without the knowledge or consent of users

Only last year, we experienced many interesting incidents involving Monero mining including:

  • Adylkuzz: a cryptominer spreading over SMB that started using ETERNALBLUE and DOUBLEPULSAR even before WannaCry and NotPetya
  • Coinhive: a service providing a JS script that once embedded in a site will mine Monero from users browsing (Read more...)