More than 1.65 million computers were targeted by cryptocurrency mining malware attacks in the first eight months of 2017, according to a new report from Kaspersky Lab.
The Russia-based cybersecurity outfit said on Tuesday that the figure represents the number of computers, running Kaspersky software, that were protected from the malicious software, which can turn a machine into a remotely-controlled mining device without the owner actually knowing.
The total for 2017 thus far seems on pace to exceed the number of attacks detected in 2016, which exceeded 1.8 million. By comparison, Kaspersky detected just over 700,000 in 2014.
Partially underpinning the attacks, the company said, appears to be several large-scale botnets dedicated to malicious mining activities.
The report said:
“This results in threat actors receiving cryptocurrency, while their victims’ computer systems experience a dramatic slowdown. Over the last month alone, we have detected several large botnets designed to profit from concealed crypto mining.”
The company only released the number of its own clients protected, and did not clarify how many machines they thought were infected globally, or if any of their customers were infected despite their protection.
Cryptocurrency mining botnets are nothing new. One of the newer botnets discovered in 2017 was developed out of a US National Security Agency exploit leaked by a group of hackers referred to as the Shadow Brokers.
Though miners traditionally infected Windows computers, they can also impact Linux machines. Some botnets infect machines which do not possess sufficient processing power to effectively mine for anything as well.
Malware image via Shutterstock