Even as the world fights back the WannaCrypt ransomeware attack that has exploited a vulnerability in a Microsoft software, the same Windows vulnerability (MS17-010) has been exploited to spread another type of virus that is fast generating digital cash from machines it has infected.
According to a report in The Registrar on Wednesday, tens of thousands of computers globally have been affected by the Adylkuzz attack, which targets machines, letting them operate while generating digital cash or Monero cryptocurrency in the background.
Monero — being popularised by North Korea-linked hackers — is an open-source cryptocurrency created in April 2014 that focuses on privacy, decentralisation and scalability.
It is an alternative to Bitcoin and is being used for trading in drugs, stolen credit cards and counterfeit goods.
“Initial statistics suggest that this attack may be larger in scale than WannaCry(pt), because this attack shuts down SMB networking to prevent further infections with other malware (including the WannaCrypt worm) via that same vulnerability,” US-based cyber security firm Proofpoint researchers were quoted as saying in the report.
According to the researchers, the Adylkuzz attack is still growing.
“Once infected through use of the EternalBlue exploit, the cryptocurrency miner Adylkuzz is installed and used to generate cybercash for the attackers,” Robert Holmes, vice president of products at Proofpoint, was quoted as saying.
According to experts, the Adylkuzz began its attack on or before May 2, more than a week before WannaCrypt arrived and hit 150 countries, including India.
“Indications are that the crooks behind Adylkuzz have generated a lot more money than the WannaCrypt ransomware fiends,” the report noted.
“Unlike ransomware, no demands for money are made of victims. The malware is deliberately stealthy; users will only notice their Windows machine is running slowly and that they don’t have access to shared Windows resources,” the researchers said.
According to cyberscoop.com, Monero doubled in price over the last month to around $23 while other digital currencies, including bitcoin, saw a mixed month.
“Cybercriminals intrigued by the currency’s promises of greater anonymity are using it more often on black markets,” it said.