People who keep an eye on cybersecurity may recall the NSA incident of 2017. A hacker collective known as The Shadow Brokers obtained one of the intelligence agency’s tools. That software goes by the name of Eternal Blue. It can sniff out vulnerabilities in outdated Microsoft Systems software. The Shadow Brokers eventually released its code to the public. Since then, it has made the rounds through different attacks.
The bigger concern is what the existence of Eternal Blue highlights. Criminals quickly realized there was an unknown flaw in the software they could use to their advantage. Being able to use someone else’s computer resources opens up a lot of new illicit business opportunities. Researchers are confident Eternal Blue’s theft is the main reason why cryptojacking is such a prominent trend today.
Eternal Blue is not just used for cryptojacking purposes either. The software has been embraced by hacker collectives across Russia and North Korea. The outbreak of WannaCry and NotPetya is also linked to this NSA toolkit. It is evident the public release of this tool has potentially caused a lot of unforeseen consequences. Until something changes, it seems likely illicit cryptocurrency mining will remain an increasingly popular trend.
It will be difficult to confirm if Eternal Blue is fully responsible for the cryptojacking trend. One can also argue the leaking of this NSA tool has alerted the world to a major flaw found in the Microsoft Systems software. If no one knew the problem existed, researchers wouldn’t even know where to start. Addressing the illicit cryptocurrency mining trend will be very difficult for the foreseeable future. 2018 has seen a 459 percent surge in illicit cryptocurrency mining cases compared to 2017.
Sadly, it seems no real progress is being made in this department. Hundreds of thousands of devices are subject to illicit cryptocurrency mining at this stage. It seems reasonable to assume more cases of illicit cryptocurrency mining will become apparent as time progresses.
The “free money” generated through cryptojacking causes many concerns. It also means criminals will continue to explore this business model moving forward. This is understandable due to the ease, potential profit, and lack of consequences associated with such hacks for criminals. It is now up to security researchers to come up with viable countermeasures in this regard.
Do you think the theft and leaking of Eternal Blue led to the increased amount of cryptojacking hacks? Let us know in the comments below.
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