Apr. 13 (NBD) -- The astronomical rise in crypto currency values in 2017 inspired many cyber criminals to shift to target coin mining, according to the Internet Security Threat Report 2018 released by Symantec Corporation (Symantec), one of the world's leading cyber security companies.

The coin mining gold rush resulted in an 8,500 percent increase in detections of coinminers on endpoint computers in 2017, the report said. Cyber criminals use coinminers to steal computer processing power and cloud CPU usage from consumers and enterprises to mine crypto currency. 

Symantec's chief operating officer Luo Shaohui said at a news briefing on Thursday that two thirds of victims of attacks targeting coin mining are individual customers, but enterprises and the enterprise networks are predicted to be the future targets of cyber criminals.

Alan Chan (Chen Yiwei), president of Symantec for the Greater China Region noted at the same event that many of the company's corporate clients now grow increasingly aware of internet security, and related discussions have been held at the CEO and Board level within some firms.

The strengthening awareness is much related to the WannaCry ransomware attacks which broke out in May last year. The outburst of cyber attacks underscores the pressure facing cyber security.

Wang Jingpu, Symantec's technical manager for the eastern and southern areas of China, held that the cyber security awareness is the last layer of protection against malicious cyber attacks. Corporate users should implement multilayered security protection and put in place security solutions, and for individual users who can't take the same protective measures as companies, they should raise their awareness about the importance of cyber security in order to stay safe online.

Unfortunately, the number of cyber attacks climbed along with people's cyber security awareness.

Wang introduced that last year, 5.4 billion WannaCry ransomware attacks were intercepted globally, among which new variants of the malware increased by 46 percent. This means the ransomware may have been traded among hackers and more cyber attacks may ensue.

As malicious coin mining evolves, Internet of Things (IoT) devices will continue to be ripe targets for cyber criminals to seek for new avenues of attack. Symantec already found a 600 percent increase in overall IoT attacks in 2017, according to the report. This means hackers could exploit the connected nature of these devices to mine.

Luo said that bitcoin has ceased to be the prime target, and the attackers have shifted to Monero, another crypto currency which is believed to be more user-friendly and secure.

The report also pointed out that China faces most cyber threats among countries in Asia-Pacific region. China ranked second globally in terms of targeted attacks, following the United States, said the report.

Email: gaohan@nbd.com.cn

Editor: Gao Han