Ever since the Mirai botnet source code was made publicly available, it was a matter of time until criminals added some new features. A new variant of the ELF Linux/Mirai malware strain has been uncovered, and it is apparently capable of mining bitcoin. This now means every IoT device vulnerable to Mirai attacks can also be used to generate bitcoins on behalf of criminals.
Mirai Botnet Malware Now Mines Bitcoin
Over the past few years, there have been several types of bitcoin mining malware. However, it is the first time such a popular strain of botnet malware is used for this specific purpose. Then again, Mirai has proven to be quite popular among cyber criminals ever since the developers made the source code available on the internet a few months ago.
Just because IoT devices can now be used to mine bitcoin does not mean it is a feature we will see deployed all that often, though. Successfully generating a bitcoin through the mining process takes either specialized hardware of a significant amount of luck. Then again, we do know the Mirai malware can infect tens of thousands of IoT devices with relative ease. When combining all of their processing power, it certainly becomes possible to generate very small amounts of bitcoin at no cost.
Although it may sound like a feasible idea to mine bitcoin through this type of malware, it remains to be seen if criminals will actively deploy it. While a new version of this popular malware has been discovered, it remains to be seen if there will ever be distribution campaigns to spread this version to IoT devices around the world, though. So far, that does not appear the case.
Moreover, security experts are confident that, even if the developers distribute the bitcoin mining component on a large scale, it will not be around for that long. In fact, it appears campaign tied to this particular malware strain have already decreased in volume over the past week and a half. It appears this was merely a test run to see whether or not it was actually worth distributing the malware. Whether or not the results were positive, remains anybody’s guess as of right now, though.
It is not the first time we see bitcoin mining malware in circulation, although it has never been distributed as part of a major DDoS-capable botnet tool. Then again, cybercriminals have to step up their game whenever they can. Once an Internet of Things device is hijacked, criminals can start to mine bitcoin while they prepare for their next major DDoS attack.
One thing is evident: IoT manufacturers will have their work cut out for them. Far too many vendors leave their devices prone to remote hijacking, either through the Mirai botnet or other types of malware. Ensuring criminals can no longer take advantage of these security holes is of the utmost importance as of right now, yet it will take a while until major changes occur, by the look of things.
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