Interpol-led Operation Reduces Cryptojacking By 78% In Southeast Asia

An Interpol-led operation from Singapore has helped in reducing the growing cybercrime known as cryptojacking or auto-crypto mining across the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

Interpol’s ASEAN Cyber Capability Desk had launched Operation Goldfish Alpha in June 2019 in partnership with private sector partners including Cyber Defense Institute and Trend Micro. They initially identified more than 20,000 hacked routers in the region, accounting for 18 percent of infections globally.

In the five-month period between June 2019 and late November 2019, the Interpol managed to drastically cut down the number of infected devices by 78 percent. The efforts are afoot to remove the infections from the remaining devices.

The operations are being conducted by cybercrime investigators and experts from police and national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) across the 10 ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. They worked together to locate the infected routers, alert the victims and patch the devices.

Operation Goldfish Alpha also served to increase awareness of cryptojacking, how to identify it and how to mitigate the threat.

Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of victims’ computing power by cybercriminals to mine cryptocurrency. In cryptojacking, the victims unwittingly install a program with malicious scripts or malware that allow the cybercriminals to access their computer or other Internet-connected devices.

After gaining control of the victims’ computer, the defendants use the processing power of the computer to solve complex algorithms for the financial benefit of the group, a process known as cryptocurrency mining.

Crypto-mining by malware increases power consumption, slows down the system, and leads to higher electricity bill, as the energy to mine a single bitcoin can cost anything from $531 to $26,170.

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