Sia Mining Malware Infects Over 100,000 Computers

Over 100,000 computers have been infected via Sia mining malware, a change from the typical cryptojacking malware, with Monero as the cryptocurrency of choice due to its inherent privacy features. This hack was based in China, and it is one of the biggest cryptojacking heists to date. Cryptojacking is a new term to describe malware which uses the host computer to mine cryptocurrency, running up electricity costs with an intensive mining process. It is becoming increasingly common as it is easier to achieve and more profitable than traditional ransomware methods.

This particular hack is more malicious than some of the other Monero based hi-profile hacks, for one primary reason. The reason being that it bears more resemblance to a professional and organized heist. The hackers appear to have worked with computer maintenance companies to infect over 100,000 computers since July 2017. Sixteen hackers have been arrested in connection with the hack.

A network technician from an internet café software firm is reported to have created the Sia mining malware program, and it was then installed by maintenance firms during routine checkups. Internet cafés initially started reporting that their electricity costs were going up and eventually the malware was discovered.

The extent of the attack is worrying. The malware is not contained, having spread to over 30 cities and over 100 maintenance companies are said to be involved. Investigations are ongoing. In the meantime, people will have to avoid internet cafes altogether in the affected regions and make sure, as much as possible, that their computers are as secure as they can be. Estimates vary about the cost of the heist, with multiple outlets claiming $800,000, often citing a local news source. This amount, if accurate, would make it one of the biggest cryptojacking heists to date.

Cryptocurrency related theft is a matter of growing concern. A Carbon Black report indicates that $1.1 billion has been stolen in the past six months alone, and 5% of the Monero cryptocurrency is said to have been mined illegally. Random cryptojacking is difficult enough to prevent. When organized crime starts working with computer manufacturers and maintenance teams, then the matter becomes exponentially more severe.

Digital Nomad with an interest in Zen and Blockchain technology.

Law graduate with 3 years experience as a consultant in the capital markets industry and 4 years experience freelancing on UpWork as a Creative Writer.