Cryptojacking has become such a ubiquitous event that it’s become a normal annoyance at this point. Usually, malware like this are easily stopped by just closing your browser.
However, a new and very aggressive form of the malware has been discovered. One that will try to crash your computer once it detects efforts to remove it.
Security researchers at 360 Total Security have reported that the malware, dubbed ‘WinstarNssmMiner,’ has attempted to infect about 500,000 PCs in just three days through email and compromised websites.
Once on the PC, the malware launches a script labeled “svchost.exe”, that is used to manage basic functions in a PC’s operating system. The malware then injects malicious code in the script, allowing other applications in the background to run normally to avoid detection.
Once this is done, WinstarNssmMiner then alters a PC’s “Critical Process” function so that the malware can crash the system if it wants to. Before it installs, the malware checks around if the PC has any antivirus software installed. According to ZDNet, if it detects software from Avast, Kaspersky or other reputable antivirus software, WinstarNssmMiner won’t even bother installing itself in the first place.
Now if the PC doesn’t have antivirus software or has second-rate software, the malware will take advantage of every CPU that it can. This is where the crashing capabilities become critical: some computer savvy users can identify, and terminate the CPU consuming applications. WinstarNssmMiner puts the kibosh on that by configuring its mining processes’ attribute to CriticalProcess so infected computers crash when users terminate it.
As of Thursday, May 17th, ZDNet reported that WinstarNssmMiner had already mined 133 Monero tokens, the equivalent of about $26,500. Four mining pools have reportedly been linked to the malware, although details are still unclear.
According to Omni Explorer, Tether generated $250 million worth of new USDT tokens last May 18th.
Tether is the company that issues the so-called stablecoins USDT. Tether claims these are backed at a 1:1 ratio by US dollars. The company was roundly criticized before due to lack of transparency after it broke ties with Friedman LLP, an auditing firm before an official audit could be done.
With a virtual monopoly on stablecoins, the total supply available of Tether coins has risen to 2.5 billion. A fair number of critics, however, find it hard to believe all tokens are backed by US dollars.
Anonymous blogger Bitfinex’ed is one such critic. The blogger has pointed out a correlation between Tether coin generation and price increases in mainstream cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Apparently, Bitcoin prices increase by about $120 and Ethereum went up by $10 an hour after the issuing of the $250 million worth of new Tether tokens.
Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, is a sister company of Tether and has threatened legal action against critics for questioning Tether’s 1:1 ratio with USD, which is hard to credit without an actual audit.
Tether, however, may not be the queen of the stablecoin sphere for long. New faces in the game, like Circle, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, TrueUSD and Basis have all begun developing their own take on stablecoins.
A lawsuit directed against Ripple Labs Inc. was filed at the Superior Court of California. The company allegedly led a game plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars with unregistered sales of its XRP tokens. They were further accused of creating billions of coins “out of thin air” and selling them to the public in “what is essentially a never-ending initial coin offering,” according to Bloomberg.
In the case of the Norwegian cryptocurrency exchange Bitmynt AS. It has lost its case against the Scandinavian financial services giant Nordea. Bitmynt AS sued the bank for closing its account due to poor safeguards. However, it was the other way around for the Chilean crypto firm Buda who won its case against two banks who closed its account.
In Israel, the cryptocurrency mining company Israminers brought legal charges against the Union Bank of Israel for allegedly stopping the cryptominer from receiving payments from crypto exchanges and sending back payments already received in the account.
Is this emerging trend of “exchange vs. bank” clashes a sign that crypto is getting so big that it tends to disrupt the existing laws and legal standards?