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Hackers are increasingly targeting major financial institutions, including
banks and other trading houses, with advanced attacks aimed at using the
institutions’ computer systems for crypto mining, a report by the
cybersecurity firm SonicWall revealed.

The report released by the cybersecurity firm on Tuesday, July 27, disclosed
the number of “cryptojacking” attacks on financial firms has more than tripled
in the first half from a year earlier, with the financial industry suffering five
times as many cryptojacking attacks as retail. The total number of such
attacks increased by 30% to 66.7 million.

How Cryptojacking Works

‘Cryptojackers’ use malware to access targeted computer networks and use
their computing power to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The process is
typically costly since it requires investing expensive state-of-the-art
equipment and an enormous amount of electricity to get the intended result.
As financial companies shift their apps to cloud-based systems, corporate
servers are increasingly becoming a prime target for hackers’ malware,
allowing them to access critical computer systems and devices. Alternatively,
they can gain access by hijacking Wi-Fi networks.

The malware often embeds in a compromised version of the legitimate
software, making it less likely to be flagged as a possible threat by the device’s
security scan. As such, the experts advise users to monitor processor usage
across all endpoints, including those hosted in the cloud.

Diversified Crime

According to the report, the government’s crackdown on ransomware attacks
is part of the reasons for the skyrocketing number of cryptojacking incidences,
forcing some hackers to switch methods to survive governments’ onslaught.
“Unlike ransomware, which announces its presence and relies heavily on
communication with victims, cryptojacking can succeed without the victim

ever being aware of it. And for some cybercriminals feeling the heat, the lower
risk is worth sacrificing a potentially higher payday,” the report said.
According to Terry Gree-King, VP for EMEA at SonicWall, cryptojacking is an
appealing alternative to cybercriminals since victims cannot easily detect it.
She noted that most users see their devices become slower, but linking it to
criminal activities is not easy.

SonicWall also noted some encouraging signs amidst the growing concern
over cryptojacking as the number of cryptojacking dropped by more than
50% in the second quarter, from the previous three months to 21.6 million.
However, that trend follows a familiar seasonal pattern where such attacks
slow down in the second and third quarters only to pick up in the year’s final

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