Whenever we encounter some sort of malware, it always feels like it was directed at us. It feels like it was done maliciously. It’s so easy to forget that most malware that’s deployed has some sort of an economic component, be it phishing scams trying to steal credit card or banking information, or spammers trying to make a quick buck off of the gullible.
Recently, there have been some recent attacks that puts an entirely new and interesting spin on the economics of hacking. A new research report from Dell SecureWorks describes the work of what seems to be a German hacker who’s set up a distributed hacking system for mining Dogecoins. Dogecoins, for the uninitiated, is a new cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoins. Dogecoins are created by “mining” or solving computationally-intense challenges. The more computer horsepower you have to throw at the problem, the more Dogecoins you can create. Hackers are finding that if they infect victims computers with malware, they can use that computational power to mine Dogecoins.
The incident that’s mentioned in the report is staggering. The hacker did not go after conventional computers, but instead attacked Network Attached Storage devices developed by Synology. These devices that people use in their homes to store files contained at least four different vulnerabilities that the hackers could use to do their work. No files were damaged in the attack, but the devices were reported to be running hot as the computationally intensive malware ran night and day. The hackers eventually made off with more than $620,00 from their attack.
Attacks like this just reinforce how difficult it is to determine when devices in our home become attacked, and how important it is to constantly be on the lookout.