The crypto-currency Bitcoin is illegally produced by criminals on hijacked computers, warns the BSI
Extortion with remotely encrypted hard drives was yesterday. Today, cybercriminals are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies that they illegally mine. This is suggested by the latest management report of the Federal Office for Security and Information Technology.
According to the BSI, cybercriminals are switching from blackmail software to more lucrative activities such as the secret mining of cryptocurrencies on foreign computers. Such business models are on the rise, according to the report. The victims remain in part to sit on high electricity bills for the significant energy needs. The BSI is responsible for the defense against cyber attacks and advises associations and companies.
"We see a new business model," said BSI boss Arne Schönbohm with regard to illegal crypto-mining in Berlin. "In other words, devices are taken over, controlled by others, and the computing power is practically stolen from them and used to add value to new money." In such actions, criminals use malicious software to hijack the computers to use the capacity to produce digital currencies such as Bitcoin.
Strong increase in malicious programs
In the case of ransomware attacks with ransomware, however, the attackers block certain files or even entire computers and demand from the affected ransom for the activation. This happened around May 2017 in the worldwide "WannaCry" attack, which infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries, including Deutsche Bahn and British hospitals.
"The threat situation in this context is still high and tense, both for the state, for the economy as well as for the users," said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) with a view to IT security in Germany as a whole. He wants to increase the staff at the BSI over the coming years. The Federal Government is currently discussing options for counter-attacking cyber attacks.
The number of malicious programs in circulation has risen sharply, with the number rising from more than 600 million in 2017 to more than 800 million in 2018. The number of malware variants per day has risen from 280,000 to 390,000. The report covers the period from 1 July 2017 to 31 May 2018.
"The situation has not eased, it has rather sharpened compared to last year," said Schönbohm. "And there's no reason to think that will change in the future, and the nature of cyber-attacks and IT-related security incidents is worrying because we've achieved a new quality here in 2017 and 2018."
New targets of attack arise with the increasing networking of everyday objects such as electricity meters and heaters or even medical devices. For example, under laboratory conditions, it was possible to hack and reprogram pacemakers or respirators, the BSI writes in its report.
At the same time, especially with such devices, better encryption is often dispensed with, for example, to enable physicians to access it quickly in the event of an emergency. Since the threat situation was critical, it was necessary to intensify research into special security mechanisms.
wed / dpa-AFX