Hackers and cybercriminals have been utilizing more recent innovative tools to initiate cyberattacks to make more money with the privacy-oriented coin Monero (XMR).
According to Japanese cybersecurity company Trend Micro, a hacker group called Outlaw had been secretly infiltrating Linux-based enterprise systems in order to seize computer power and mine for XMR coins, a process generally referred to as cryptojacking.
Even though Outlaw had previously restrained itself to attacking computer systems in China, it was uncovered that it was now targeting companies in Europe and the U.S., said Trend Micro.
Hackers Like Crypto-Mining
Crypto-mining bots have been sneaking on Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices in various instances. Malware that hijacks computer processing power to mine XMR is distributed across the internet by hackers.
Monero is an open-source, privacy-oriented coin that was initially launched in April 2014 that is based on fungibility and places emphasis on privacy and decentralization.
In February 2018, reports noted that over half a million computers were discovered to be infected with a botnet that proceeded to mine approximately 9,000 XMR coins which amounted to $3.6 million at the time over a period of nine months.
Since Monero is a privacy-focused token, hackers may sell it on exchanges without taking the risk of being identified by law enforcement agencies.
Why Hackers Love Monero?
According to cryptocurrency professionals, there are two primary reasons why hackers and cybercriminals prefer Monero over any other private token.
Firstly, hackers can mine Monero using CPUs. In contrast, Bitcoin (BTC) requires ASICs to mine the asset (Or being rewarded for validating transactions) on the blockchain. Hence, this is convenient for hackers since all they got to do is breach the CPU systems of victims to execute mining scripts. This can be cost-effective for cryptocurrency hackers since they do not have to purchase expensive ASICs to mine cryptocurrencies.
Furthermore, the core feature why hackers prefer Monero is that the private coin employs an obfuscated public blockchain where anybody may carry out transactions on the network, but no external spectator may determine the source, the transaction quantity or destination address with the assistance of Ring Signatures and Zero-Knowledge Proofs.
A Europol analyst has explained during a webinar that Monero transactions still may not be traced or analyzed. The Europol analyst stated that using both Tor and Monero renders it impracticable to trace the funds of a suspect.
Despite the fact that Europol could successfully trace the transactions of Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH), investigations typically ended when the suspect’s funds were converted to Monero, in spite of the method it was completed.
The Monero blockchain employs a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism to reward blockchain consensus nodes with freshly issued tokens.
Significantly, Monero transactions are anonymous which renders it simpler for hackers to avoid having their illicit funds tracked as well as avoid sanctions imposed on particular nations.
U.S. cybersecurity company Recorded Future said Monero had been deployed by North Korea actors since at least August 2017 when actors involved in the WannaCry ransomware attack laundered the Bitcoin profits using a Bitcoin mixer and exchanged into Monero.
The privacy feature found in Monero has enticed attackers into deploying it as such attackers could be interested in hiding from law enforcement investigators in cases involving cybercrime and evasion of sanctions.
Monero renders it impracticable to check the balance of a specified address. In contrast with Bitcoin, which is deemed pseudonymous as every transaction and balance is publicly visible and recorded, Monero employs a notable feature called Ring Signatures in the CryptoNote protocol to mix the spender’s input with a group of others to render it highly complex to establish a relationship between each subsequent transaction data.
An additional feature is Bulletproofs which are employed in Monero, which are a type of non-interactive zero-knowledge proof, which allow transactions to be validated without knowledge of the sender, receiver, or the quantity contained in the transactions.