Brand new malware called CoinKrypt has been discovered running across a number of cellphones in Spain, according to mobile security firm Lookout. So far it seems like this is the very first botnet of its kind to use smartphones as miniature, portable cryptocurrency mining machines.
Cryptocurrency hashing botnets aren’t anything surprising these days. Long ago hackers figured out the value of using malware as a way to zombie up as many high-end PCs with the best graphics cards in the business as possible with the least amount of resources expended by their servers back home.
It’s become a way to reap the rewards of the Bitcoin boom in the past few months, without paying the power bill required to run a massive mining operation under one roof.
And even though you’ll see Bitcoin topping the price charts out of all the various cryptocurrency variants out there these days, CoinKrypt chooses to focus on snatching up lesser known names like Dogecoin, Litecoin, and Casinocoin instead. Researchers on the project believe this is due to the less-stringent security measures these three formats share.
“This leads us to believe this criminal is experimenting with malware that can take advantage of lower-hanging digital currency fruit that might yield more coins with less work,” Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at Lookout, explains.
One bright spot in the story is that even though higher end devices like the Galaxy S5 or iPhone 5S break through the GPU barrier to make mining coins cost-effective, pretty much anything below those models in don’t pack the kind of punch that would make them desirable to crooks looking to use this kind of crack.
In much the same way hackers will only seek out the beefiest of Bitcoin miners, the Spanish-based hackers behind CoinKrypt are only concerned with devices capable of processing the most amount of hash requests per hour as possible, and don’t have the time or resources to bother with anything else below the top of the tier.