It’s April 2019, and it doesn’t look like crypto-based crime has any plans to take time off.
Beapy: The Latest Form of Malware
A new form of cryptocurrency mining malware has appeared. According to security researchers at Symantec, a new wave of malicious crypto-based software known simply as “Beapy” has experienced a sudden rise in popularity. First spotted last January, it has now spread into 12,000 separate infections across nearly 800 different organizations in just three short months.
For the most part, individuals are relatively safe, as Beapy primarily targets large enterprises that house many computers. The malware relies mostly on someone opening an infected email thread. Once it’s opened, Beapy drops what’s known as “Double Pulsar” – developed by NSA agents – which opens a quasi-permanent door on the computer. It then spreads what’s called “Eternal Blue” – another form of NSA software – throughout the network to potentially garner “large sums of money” from the users.
These are the same tactics utilized in 2017 when the Wanna Cry ransomware was running rampant. In addition, Beapy also uses Mimikatz – an open-source form of malware used to steal users’ login credentials – to meander through other computers in the infected network. At press time, Beapy has a heavy presence in China, with roughly 80 percent of the software’s cases occurring within the country’s borders.
Cryptocurrency crime is nothing original. At this stage, the space is consistently marred, for example, by stories of crypto-jacking. The process involves a hacker taking control of a user’s computer or smart device without their permission or knowledge. The hacker then utilizes the computer to mine cryptocurrencies, usually the semi-anonymous Monero, and garners crypto-based profits. In the meantime, the computer’s original owner receives nothing except a big energy bill at the end of each month.
Other serious cases of crypto hacking and thievery have occurred with cases such as Coincheck and Mt. Gox. As the two largest cryptocurrency thefts in the history of the space, both took place in Japan approximately four years apart, with Mt. Gox occurring in February 2014, and Coincheck happening in January 2018. Altogether, both hacks resulted in roughly $1 billion in crypto losses, and not all the lost funds have been reimbursed.
Criminals Love Their Bitcoin
At the time of writing, most crypto-related crime appears to revolve around bitcoin. In fact, the father of crypto accounts for roughly 95 percent of all dark web purchases. Jonathan Levin – COO and co-founder of Chainanalysis – says that most drugs on the dark web are purchased and can be traced through bitcoin’s blockchain:
What we’ve seen is that there is the ability to tie some of those cryptocurrency transactions either to the pharmacies in China or to the services that people are using to distribute fentanyl. Homeland Security and the DEA have actually become really good at apprehending those people.