Cryptomining malware up, financial malware down in Q1 2021, Kaspersky finds


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Kaspersky has published a pair of reports detailing the state of the cybersecurity threat landscape in the first quarter of 2021. The first report, detailing desktop attacks, found that cryptomining malware has exploded in popularity, while the second report covering mobile devices, revealed that a popular Trojan targeting gamers has made the leap from PC to Android.

a circuit board: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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a circuit board: bitcoin cryptocurrency mining and online wallet concept

© Getty Images/iStockphoto

bitcoin cryptocurrency mining and online wallet concept

The price of Bitcoin skyrocketed starting late 2020 before hitting a high of more than $63,000 on April 15, 2021. Between February and March 2021, during which time the price of a single bitcoin increased by more than $10,000, the number of modified cryptomining malware found by Kaspersky experienced a similar jump with a fourfold increase over the course of the same time period.


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“It’s too early to say for sure if the trend we’ve noted in Q1 2021 is here to stay. However, it does seem that the increase in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has sparked a renewed interest in miners. If the crypto markets remain strong this year, it’s likely we’ll continue to see more instances of users encountering miners,” said Kaspersky security expert Evgeny Lopatin.

It remains to be seen if Bitcoin’s sudden drop in value (its gains between February and April have largely been erased), along with rumored U.S. cryptocurrency regulation, a mining crackdown in China and Tesla’s dropping of Bitcoin as way to buy a vehicle will further deflate the price and lead to an exodus of cybercriminals to more profitable ventures. 

The desktop report also includes findings that indicate advanced persistent threat groups (APT), or hacking groups backed by governments, are making extensive use of four Microsoft Exchange Server zero-day vulnerabilities. Kaspersky notes that the zero days have been patched and advises any organization with an on-site exchange server to update its software immediately, as APTs are known to be using them to launch additional attacks and distribute malware through…