Bitcoin-mining malware on the rise in APAC: Trend Micro

  • Top 6 infected countries include four from Asia Pacific
  • Users advised to separate accounts, treat it like they would real currency

BITCOIN has become a much discussed topic, especially as people are finding this virtual currency to be as tradable and as valuable as real currency.
And because of this, Bitcoin has gained the attention and interest of hackers and cybercriminals, said Internet security vendor Trend Micro Inc.
The company has observed the spread of Bitcoin-mining malware recently, and most of the affected countries are from the Asia Pacific region, it said in a statement.
Bitcoin-mining malware on the rise in APAC: Trend MicroBitcoin owners should keep safe by separating their Bitcoin wallets and managing their Bitcoin accounts offline, which would diminish potential cyber-threats, according to Trend Micro.
“Bitcoin users have become a hot target for cybercriminals as transactions are permanent and have no reversal of charges,” said Goh Chee Hoh (pic), South-East Asia region managing director at Trend Micro.
“If you are the victim of credit card fraud, you can appeal to your bank to reverse the transaction and in many cases, it will. On the other hand, once your Bitcoin wallet is compromised by hackers, there is no recourse [for you] to undo the transaction.
“In fact, there is no regulator or authority that Bitcoin users can appeal to if they fall victim to theft or fraud,” he noted.
Trend Micro Smart Protection Network has detected three pieces of malware called BKDR_BTMINE, TROJ_COINMINE and HKTL_BITCOINMINE which turns infected systems into bitcoin miners, making them virtual assets for criminals.
There are more than 12,000 PCs globally affected by bitcoin-mining malware which are causing a severe slowdown of systems, the company said.
Trend Micro found that four out of the six countries with the highest number of such malware-infected computers are from Asia Pacific, with Japan being the top followed by Australia (third), India (fourth) and Taiwan (sixth).

Bitcoin-mining malware on the rise in APAC: Trend Micro

Executing malware into a victim’s computer to mine bitcoins is a new type of cybercrime. Such mining is resource-intensive and increases the CPU load, which is why the malware can slow down the infected computer and raise power consumption.
To protect themselves, Trend Micro advises Bitcoin users to understand the way transactions are conducted and to manage them with the same caution and prudence that applies to real currency.
Besides using security software to filter malware, Trend Micro also suggests users not put all their bitcoins into a single wallet. They should divide their bitcoins into an income account for inbound transactions, and an expense account for outbound transactions.
As an additional precaution, they should also consider managing all their wallets offline.
Trend Micro also reminds users that although Bitcoin claims to be ‘anonymous,’ the transaction records are still public and leave traces. Consequently, given enough circumstantial evidence, criminals can identify and obtain the owners’ personal information.
For more information on Bitcoin threats and other security updates, please kindly follow Trend Micro TrendLabs Security Intelligence blog here.
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