There were on average five new threat samples every second that resulted in a massive 629 percent growth in cryptojacking and other cryptocurrency mining malware in the first quarter of 2018, a new report said on 28 June.
The coin miner malware grew a stunning 629 percent to 2.9 million in the first quarter of 2018, from around 4,00,000 total known samples in Q4 2017, said the report from global cybersecurity firm McAfee.
Cybercriminals extended their operations in cryptojacking and other cryptocurrency mining schemes, where perpetrators hijack victims' browsers or infect their systems to secretly use them to mine for legitimate cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
"There were new revelations this quarter concerning complex nation-state cyberattack campaigns targeting users and enterprise systems worldwide," said Raj Samani, Chief Scientist at McAfee.
"Bad actors demonstrated a remarkable level of technical agility and innovation in tools and tactics. Criminals continued to adopt cryptocurrency mining to easily monetise their criminal activity," he added.
The Lazarus cybercrime group launched a highly sophisticated Bitcoin-stealing phishing campaign, HaoBao, which targeted global financial organisations and Bitcoin users.
When recipients open malicious email attachments, an implant would scan for Bitcoin activity and establishes an implant for persistent data gathering and cryptomining.
"In recent quarters, we have seen a shift to ransomware from data-theft, as ransomware is a more efficient crime. With the rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, the market forces are driving criminals to crypto-jacking and the theft of cryptocurrency," said Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer at McAfee.
McAfee Labs counted 313 publicly disclosed security incidents in Q1 2018, a 41 percent increase over Q4.
"The incidents in healthcare sector rose 47 percent. Cybercriminals continued to target the sector with the 'SAMSA' ransomware, and there were numerous cases in which hospitals were compelled to pay the criminals," the report revealed.
Incidents of attacks on the education sector rose 40 percent, with ransomware being a notable culprit in attacks on schools and related institutions.