Hackers now target cell phone owners in South Africa for crypto mining

Managing Director of Kaspersky Lab in Africa, Riaan Badenhorst, has raised an alarm over attacks by hackers targeting cellphone owners in South Africa to illegally mine cryptocurrencies by installing malware on their victims’ devices.

McAfee, a US-based cyber security firm, who raised a similar awareness in 2018, said hackers shifted the focus from digital tokens to crypto mining due to a decline in the price of digital tokens.

“[…| New crypto mining malware samples grew a stunning 629 percent to more than 2.9 million samples in Q1 2018. This trend continued in Q2 as total samples grew by 86 percent with more than 2.5 million new samples. By the end of the third quarter of [2018], it jumped to 4 million,” McAfee Labs observed.

Cryptocurrencies Mining and Mobile Phones

According to Badenhorst, South Africa has continued to see an increase in crypto-related crimes, as hackers now attack cell phones and personal computers to illegally mine cryptocurrencies.

Revealing this to Business insider, he said, all a hacker needs do, is to access a victim’s computer or cell phone through malicious links on email or websites, such that when clicked on, these links infect the device. Citing an instance, he said Channels like Slack and Telegram are typical examples of how hackers mine cryptocurrency through cell phones, where they provide malicious links that allegedly solve crypto issues.

To know a cell phone that is malware infected, its operation will be slow with an increase in energy expended, overheating will occur, and a rise in data usage.

When it comes to crypto mining malware, victims often times do not notice their devices are infected and it also takes a long time for the hacker to make money from it, this is unlike the crypto mining ransomware which was popular in 2017, it was easy to notice by victims but takes lesser time for the hacker to make money.

How to Stay Safe from Crypto Mining Attacks

Badenhorst advises that regular updates of device software will help ward off an attack. He added that people should avoid downloading unknown softwares or clicking links from unknown sources.

Another way to protect your personal devices is by using an antivirus, securing your router with a strong password, and never ignoring your devices’ security updates.

More so, those who surf the net on their cellphones and computer, are advised to use browsers such as Opera, which protects them from crypto mining malware.

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