Bitcoin is breaking records. As noted by Business Insider, the cryptocurrency hit an all-time high on Nov. 1, 2017, and its bull run shows no sign of losing steam. Traders are hoping that the new SegWit2x software update could mean a windfall of free dividend currency if a new bitcoin variant is created.
But cybercriminals are also looking to cash in on free digital coins. According to Bleeping Computer, new bitcoin malware attacks have already co-opted more than $150,000 of the high-value cryptocurrency.
Payment Pasting Problems
Discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the new attack strain, called CryptoShuffler, uses a simple tactic to steal valuable bitcoins from unsuspecting users: copy and paste.
First, attackers compromise target devices and the CryptoShuffler code begins monitoring clipboard activity. That’s because many users copy and then paste the recipient’s wallet ID into transaction destination fields, which is easier than remembering the entire string and wiser than writing it down.
CryptoShuffler simply bides its time until it detects common cryptocurrency wallet string characteristics. The malware then intercepts the copied wallet string and replaces it with one that sends money directly to the attackers. If a user doesn’t carefully check the intended recipient wallet address against the one he or she pasted, fraudsters will get the windfall.
As Kaspersky Lab noted, the efficacy of CryptoShuffler shows that “many kinds of malware try to keep a low profile and to operate as stealthily as possible.” By sitting quietly in memory and monitoring only the temporary cut-and-paste clipboard process, users won’t see any performance degradation, random pop-ups or ransom messages.
Since bitcoin transactions are one way unless both parties agree to the payment, there’s little recourse for users who have been victimized. While this Trojan reached peak activity late last year, it’s enjoying new life as the price of bitcoin skyrockets.
Making a Mint With Bitcoin Malware Attacks
Clipboard threats aren’t the only malware attacks targeting cryptocurrency. BBC noted that coin-mining malware is quickly becoming a problem for websites.
In fact, Google is considering rolling out Chrome defenses to safeguard devices against resource-exploiting bitcoin mines. But these malicious miners leave behind traces of their activity, and device processing power can be significantly reduced as fraudsters leverage every available cycle to grab more coins.
CryptoShuffler, meanwhile, takes advantage of the growing ubiquity of cryptocurrency. Users now have typical purchasing processes, which include copying and pasting destination addresses for quick payment. By exploiting day-to-day behavior rather than network or OS-level actions, attackers enjoy both greater success and a reduced chance of detection.
This puts the onus on users to monitor for any suspicious processes — Kaspersky identified Trojan-Banker.Win32.CryptoShuffler.gen as the most common variant — and avoid potentially compromised downloads or email attachments. Given bitcoin’s burgeoning bull run and ballistic trajectory, users may want to consider cutting out the copy-and-paste practice and instead take the time to input recipient wallet codes bit by bit.