April 20, 2018 By Shane Schick 2 min read

A research report from the U.K. suggested that the practice of cryptojacking website visits to mine Monero and other digital currencies will emerge as a prominent threat over the course of 2018.

For its “The Cyber Threat to U.K. Businesses,” report, the U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) drew upon several existing studies as well as their own data to assess the current cyberthreat landscape in the region. While the scope of the report included everything from security vulnerabilities to ransomware and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, the authors highlighted a half-dozen new threats for U.K. businesses to look out for, including cryptojacking.

Cryptojacking Poses Unique Challenges

In February, at least 600 websites in the U.K. (and more than 4,000 worldwide) secretly used a screen plugin for visually impaired computer users to mine cryptocurrency, according to the report. Victims were likely unaware that their machine’s resources were being diverted because, other than webpages taking longer to load and potential slowdowns in application performance, the attackers left few clues of their intrusion.

The report noted that cryptojacking is a particularly challenging threat to detect because it is sometimes carried out by legitimate website owners looking for new revenue streams.

CMS in the Crosshairs

While cyptojacking WordPress sites has been a prevalent trend for some time, a recent report from the SANS Technology Institute revealed that attackers are now turning to a new content management system (CMS) as well. For example, one attack vector uses a downloader to place a cryptocurrency miner and then activate it on a site. CryptoVest conducted its own investigation and found that the threat actors behind the scheme host multiple websites from a set of shared servers.

Last month, Symantec’s “Internet Security Threat Report” revealed that the volume of crypojacking attempts against endpoint computers skyrocketed by 8,500 percent over the course of the past year.

Beyond the rise of cyptojacking as a serious threat to consumers in the U.K. and elsewhere, the NCA/NCSC report cited attacks against Internet of Things (IoT) devices, supply chain compromises and cloud security as areas of concern.

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