Bitcoin price drop triggers surge in cryptocurrency hijacking attacks, worse situation is about to come.

Bitcoin price drop triggers surge in crypto hijacking attacks, worse to come.

Author: Eric Johansson, dlnews; Translation: Shanolba, LianGuai


SonicWall researchers have stated that when Bitcoin prices fall, cryptojacking attacks increase, which may indicate that even worse situations are on the horizon. These attacks turn victims’ computers into unwitting cryptocurrency mining devices. Bitcoin reached a high of $68,000 per coin in November 2021, then fell to a low of slightly above $16,000 per coin in 2022, and is currently hovering around $30,000.

This price decline may lead to more attacks in 2022 and a nine-fold increase in attacks in Europe in 2023. The cause of this situation is the sharp drop in the price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, making it difficult for miners to make a profit while maintaining operating costs.

Bobby Cornwell, Vice President of Product Security at SonicWall, told DL News that legitimate miners “have sold their mining machines on eBay and exited the business due to the high maintenance costs,” while digital criminals have simply launched more cryptojacking attacks. Once a cryptocurrency is mined, it is indistinguishable from legitimately mined Bitcoin, which is why it is “almost impossible” to determine how much cryptocurrency has been created through cryptojacking attacks. The entry of financial giants like BlackRock and Fidelity into the cryptocurrency field has created more bullish sentiment in the market.

However, cryptojacking attacks are unlikely to disappear because they allow criminals to obtain new sources of income by launching new waves of attacks while robbing away from ransomware and evading law enforcement surveillance.

What is behind the increase in cryptojacking attacks?

In recent years, the number of attacks by European cybercriminals who install malicious software to turn victims’ computers into unwitting cryptocurrency mining tools has increased significantly. According to SonicWall, such attacks in Europe have increased by nearly 790% this year, and the increase in North America is also close to 350%. Overall, cryptojacking attacks worldwide have increased nearly fivefold, surpassing 300 million attacks and setting a record for the total number in the previous three years.

Since 2020, the number of cryptojacking attacks has been increasing every year, and the surge in early 2023 appears to be continuing. Bobby Cornwell, Vice President of Product Security at SonicWall, pointed out that the driving factors behind this trend include law enforcement crackdowns on ransomware gangs, the sharp drop in Bitcoin prices, and small and medium-sized businesses downloading illegal software.

Cryptojacking attacks are generally relatively harmless, potentially slowing down devices but not severely compromising them like other attacks. Therefore, for cybersecurity companies, these attacks may not be seen as significant threats. However, this attitude may allow criminals to infiltrate infected networks and contaminate partner organizations with malicious code from cryptojacking malware.

Cornwell believes that market tightening may also lead some small companies to try to save $800 in new software purchase costs by downloading illegal copies online, inadvertently installing malware in the process.

Law enforcement agencies have been struggling to combat cybercrime this year. For example, the FBI announced in January that it had shut down the operations of the Hive ransomware and seized nine cryptocurrency exchanges used for ransomware payments in May. These crackdowns have prompted cybercriminals to turn to lower-cost and lower-risk attack methods, including cryptojacking, allowing them to limit the risk of being discovered while maximizing profit potential.

Ransomware is not disappearing

In the first half of 2023, SonicWall recorded about 140 million ransomware attacks, a 41% decrease compared to last year. However, the company noted an increase in the number of attacks in April, May, and June, which may indicate a possible rebound in ransomware.

This warning is consistent with a recent report by research firm Chainalysis, which shows that online extortionists are expected to steal nearly $900 million in cryptocurrency in 2023. This indicates that although ransomware attacks have decreased during certain periods, cybercriminals are still looking for new opportunities to profit. This situation reminds the cybersecurity industry to remain vigilant and continuously take measures to prevent and combat malicious attacks such as ransomware. With the popularity of cryptocurrency and its exploitation in criminal activities, cybersecurity will continue to face challenges and require ongoing improvement and innovation to maintain the security and stability of networks.