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28 Jan, 2018 16:01

Cryptojackers use YouTube ads to mine digital currencies

Cryptojackers use YouTube ads to mine digital currencies

Hackers have been harnessing the computer processing power of YouTube viewers to mine cryptocurrencies. The malware attack, known as ‘cryptojacking’, was found to have targeted users through Google’s advertising service.

The issue first surfaced last week after social media users reported that YouTube ads were triggering their anti-virus software, according to Ars Technica. These ads were found to contain mining code called CoinHive that covertly used up to 80 percent of visitors’ central processing units to generate digital currency for anonymous hackers.

READ MORE: Hacked Japanese cryptocurrency exchange to repay affected users $425 million

The hack is said to have affected users in countries such as Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy and Spain. Researchers from anti-virus provider Trend Micro found the abuse of Google’s DoubleClick advertising platform drove a three-fold increase in the number of people using CoinHive on January 24.

RT.com has contacted Google for comment. In a statement to Gizmodo, a spokesperson for the tech giant said that, while relatively new, mining cryptocurrency is a practice the tech firm are monitoring closely. “We enforce our policies through a multi-layered detection system across our platforms which we update as new threats emerge,” the spokesperson said. “In this case, the ads were blocked in less than two hours and the malicious actors were quickly removed from our platforms.”

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Cryptojacking has been a growing problem for online businesses in recent years, as it’s proving an effective way of making money in places where people are less likely to pay up following a ransomware attack. Instead of hoping for a payout to release a victim’s data, the hackers can make use of the victim’s machine to mine cryptocurrency.

According to CyberScoop, cryptomining malware is the most commonly found infection in countries such as Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece.

“Ransomware is the number one infection globally,” Bogdan Botezatu, the senior threat analyst at the cybersecurity firm Bitdefender, told the website. “Cryptominers rank second.”

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