Cybercriminals have shifted their focus from ransomware attacks to a more discreet method known as cryptojacking, where they exploit stolen computing power to mine cryptocurrencies. This shift in strategy has led to a staggering increase in cryptojacking incidents, according to a report by SonicWall, a leading publisher of cyberattack intelligence and ransomware data. The report reveals that cryptojacking cases have skyrocketed by nearly 400% in the first half of 2023, reaching a record-breaking 332 million hits compared to 66.7 million during the same period last year.
The surge in cryptojacking incidents was particularly notable in the months of January, February, April, and May, with monthly totals exceeding 77 million instances. This surpasses the combined figures for the first six months of 2022 and even exceeds the totals recorded for the entire years of 2018 or 2019. By the end of June 2023, the total number of cryptojacking hits had surpassed 300 million, setting a new record that exceeded the full-year totals for the past three years combined.
The United States experienced a 340% surge in cryptojacking incidents, increasing from 48 million to 211.7 million hits year to date. Germany also witnessed a triple-digit jump, with a 139% increase from nearly three million to over seven million hits. The UK saw a 479% spike, pushing the total number of cryptojacking hits to 6.8 million compared to 1.2 million last year. However, there was a significant decline in cryptojacking hits in India, falling from four million to 1.1 million in the first half of 2023.
Interestingly, cybercriminals are now targeting cloud services, cracked macOS applications, and Oracle WebLogic servers, rather than focusing solely on hardware endpoints like smartphones. The education sector has seen the largest increase in cryptojacking incidents, with the number rising over 320 times. Additionally, the finance industry has experienced a 4.7x increase in cryptojacking hits compared to the same period last year.
As businesses become more aware of the risks associated with ransomware attacks and refuse to pay ransom demands, cybercriminals are adapting their tactics to maximize their chances of success. Cryptojacking provides a more covert approach, allowing criminals to exploit individuals’ devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and servers, for cryptocurrency mining. To combat this growing threat, organizations need to prioritize cybersecurity measures and stay vigilant against evolving cyberattack techniques.
In conclusion, the SonicWall report highlights the alarming increase in cryptojacking incidents, with a 400% surge in the first half of 2023. This shift in cybercriminal tactics underscores the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures to protect individuals and businesses from falling victim to these covert attacks.