Are your office computers mining cryptocurrency?

File photo: A man walks past an electric board showing currency exchange rates of various cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (top L) at a cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea December 13, 2017. (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

Using your computer for personal use is one thing, but what about how to install a cryptocurrency miner? Some employees may be doing just that.

In the past few months, Microsoft has noticed that a number of enterprise systems that currency mining software. One would think that hackers behind the scheme, but Microsoft found that none of the systems were compromised. Instead, someone—likely it is that an employee decided to install a currency miner on the enterprise system and take advantage of the benefits, the software giant said in a Tuesday blog post.

In January, Microsoft noted more than 1,800 enterprise computers that are legitimate but potentially unwanted currency mining software, only a few hundred systems that Microsoft found in October.


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But it is also no surprise. The value of many cryptocurrencies has exploded in the past year. In particular, a virtual currency known as Monero can be mined, simply by making use of the CPU of your computer.

However, the generation of a digital currency can drag down the performance of the device, which can become problematic if these systems perform critical business processes, Microsoft said.

The company is not the only security provider to report the problem. In January, Cisco’s Talos group also said that the brand is a “large number” of enterprise users that coin mining software on their computers, possibly for their own personal gain.

Both the companies that this mining can be more difficult to block, because it is technically not approved by the employee. Nevertheless, companies should be aware of the potential costs, especially if the trend catches on. Microsoft warns that the employee sponsored cryptocurrency mining can be “exponentially” spread to more computers, which can run up a bill.

To stop the activity, Microsoft’s Windows Defender can block potentially unwanted programs, including coins miners. But the threat is not only limited to employees. The current cryptocurrency craze has also led to an increase of the Trojan malware that can deliver currency miners, also. On average, about 688,000 unique computers will encounter, according to Microsoft’s latest statistics.


Hackers seem to move from ransomware to secret cryptocurrency miners, the company added. “These developments indicate the widespread cybercriminal interest in the currency of mining, with various attackers and cyber criminal groups to launch attacks,” Microsoft said.

Last week, the company antivirus software stopped with an outbreak of the coin-mining malware in Russia. Apparently, the malicious software arrived as Trojan horses for the sharing of files and internet download programs.

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