Monero is at the top of the list of cryptocurrencies favored by people launching cryptojacking attacks. Indeed, a recent report by Palo Alto Networks, a network and enterprise security firm, found that out of all Monero (XMR) in circulation today, 5 percent was mined illegally, Cointelegraph has reported.
A recent massive cryptojacking attack that infected 9,000 companies and 40,000 devices forced the compromised machines to mine Monero. In December last year, security organization Wordfence reported that 18 hackers had launched an attack on 190,000 WordPress sites in the same manner, increasing the alarming rate at which these illicit actors use the cryptocurrency.
The Palo Alto Network research combed through about 470,000 unique data samples that led to the results. Monero developers are aware of this and are trying to help with the situation.
Justin Ehrenhofer, of the Monero Malware Response WorkGroup, wrote Cointelegraph explaining that hackers are taking advantage of their cryptocurrency’s privacy protection and its “accessible proof of work” component for their own illicit endeavors. Monero functions by encrypting a user’s address on its blockchain and creating a fake address to hide the location of the said user. It also fogs the number of transactions made with this cryptocurrency.
Of course, there are valid reasons for doing this. Legitimate Monero users may simply want to hide their transactions whether they’re buying a beer or a vehicle since some companies, including legitimate ones, steal data to launch marketing campaigns or other projects.
While these campaigns may be relatively harmless, people aren’t too keen on a company monitoring their every purchase, that’s why they’re gravitating towards technologies that can better offer them privacy. However, this resulted in a double-edged sword, which brings us to what we’re seeing now.
Josh Grunzweig, of the Unit 42 security research team, said that Monero has a strong connection to the proliferation of malware incidents which are designed to mine the cryptocurrency. Security firm Carbon Black said in a recent report that the malware industry is worth $6.7 million, adding that dipping your hands in this illegal market isn’t as complicated as people would think.
The Palo Alto Network also pointed out that its 5 percent estimation isn’t reliable and that number can still increase as it admitted that it couldn’t access data from other Monero miners. Developers of the cryptocurrency said they recognize this problem and are willing to help people who have a problem with Monero-mining malware.