According to a recent report released by a leading internet security firm, threats related to cryptocurrency have followed prices, significantly decreasing after the market slump in May. Detections have dropped by nearly a quarter, but Russia remains the most affected country, with the United States ranking among the top three.
1 in 10 Crypto-Focused Threats Detected in Russia, According to ESET
Software threats in the crypto space, particularly mining malware, are highly dependent on cryptocurrency market developments, according to cybersecurity firm ESET in its Threat Report T2 2021. However, the authors of the study, which covered the second third of the year, note that the drop in cybercriminal activity surrounding cryptocurrencies “does not mean that all was quiet,” and add:
Scams involving cryptocurrency investments are more common than ever, with con artists luring unsuspecting victims to bogus investment websites or impersonating government officials and even celebrities.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced in May that victims had lost at least $80 million to this type of scam in just a few months since October 2020. Meanwhile, blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis revealed in a preview of its latest Geography of Cryptocurrency report that a single crypto Ponzi scheme in Russia, Finiko, received more than half of the $800 million in crypto funds sent from Eastern Europe to scam addresses.
Nonetheless, ESET’s detections of all crypto-related threats fell by 23.6 percent in T2, 2021. At the same time, certain countries continue to be severely impacted by the phenomenon. Most notably, the Russian Federation continues to top the list, accounting for 10% of all cases. Russia is followed by Peru, which has 6.8 percent, and the United States, which has 5.3 percent, according to the report.
“Over the last few months, we noticed that while cryptominer detection rates fluctuated in tandem with cryptocurrency prices, cryptostealer detections did not appear to be influenced by the same factors,” said Ji Kropá, head of Threat Detection Labs at Slovakia-based ESET. He explained that cryptominers, like prices, are influenced by government regulations and large investments in specific coins.
Crypto thieves, on the other hand, are not as reliant on the volatile market, according to Kropá. “There is no reason for cybercriminals to abandon them if the value of a coin falls, because they represent a reliable tool, bringing in profit as well as blackmail opportunities,” the ESET executive added.
During the time period covered by the report, the European cybersecurity firm also stated that it continued to monitor cryptojacking domains. According to ESET, “due to the nature of this activity – running cryptomining software in the background of compromised websites – the most visited cryptojacking domains continue to be portals with adult content, free streaming websites, torrent sites, and forums.”