Cryptojacking, which is the use of malware to take over an unsuspecting user's computer for the purpose of cryptocurrency mining, has become very popular. Last year, the crime rose 8,500%, and this year it has risen an additional 500%, with experts believing that amateur hackers are largely to blame. Experts also believe that the majority of cryptojacking incidents relate to Monero. Palo Alto Networks has stated that nearly 85% of incidents are related to the digital currency, with the other 15% related to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Miners are choosing Monero because of its high value and the fact that its proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm makes it easier to mine using ordinary computers. It is also popular because of the way it obfuscates transactions. What has helped drive the explosion of cryptojacking among amateur hackers is the abundance of cheap and readily available malware. A Russian cybersecurity company called Group-IB says that anyone can buy the malware for next to nothing on the dark web, which is a section of the Internet where IP addresses of computers cannot be traced. Group-IB says that — while it found around 100 offerings of such software last year — this year that has increased to nearly 500. They went on to say that anyone can get involved in cryptojacking without having technical knowledge or even having experience in cybercrime. In terms of victims of cryptojacking, there were 1.7 million of them between 2016 and 2017, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs. They further said that there were another 2.7 million victims of the crime between 2017 and 2018. The most common piece of malware used in cryptojacking is called CoinMiner, which infects computers once a user has downloaded a web page that has the software embedded within it. The malware is able to infect computers regardless of what operating system is used. This means computers running Apple's MacOS are no safer than computers running Microsoft Windows. Experts say that while cryptojacking is being driven by amateur hackers, professional hackers are still behind some of the major exploits. This includes a botnet called Smominru, which infected more 500,000 computers.
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