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Monero Currently in Circulation Has Been Mined Using Malware
Monero cryptocurrency currently in circulation has been mined using malware, and about 2% of the total daily hashrate comes from devices infected with cryptocurrency-mining malware. These numbers are the results of in-depth research of the coin-mining malware scene by security researchers from Palo Alto Networks.
The report, released June 11, has analyzed 629,126 malware samples that have been detected as part of coin-mining operations. The research didn’t analyze in-browser miners (cryptojackers), but only traditional malware families that infected desktops and servers since June last year, when there was a significant spike in coin-mining operations.
The research team at Palo Alto discovered because malware needs to be built directly into the source code of cryptocurrency mining pool. The malware also requires a Monero address under which it operates and handles any illegal funds generated from mining the cryptocurrency.
Monero is the most popular cryptocoin
According to researchers, 84% of all malware samples they’ve detected were focused on mining for the Monero cryptocurrency, by far the most popular coin among malware groups.
Because Monero-based coin-mining malware must embed in its source code the mining pool and Monero address through which the malware operates and collects ill-gotten funds, researchers have been able to track most of the money these groups generated on infected devices.
By querying nine mining pools (which allow third-parties to query their payment stats) with the 2,341 Monero addresses researchers found embedded in the 531,6663 malware samples that focused on mining Monero, they were able to determine the amount of funds these groups have made in the past year.
Malware groups made over $108 million worth of Monero
According to Palo Alto Networks researchers, criminal groups have mined an approximate total of 798,613.33 Monero coins (XMR) using malware on infected devices.
That’s over $108 million in US currency, just from coin-mining operations alone. This sum also represents around 5% of all the Monero currently in circulation —15,962,350 XMR.
Furthermore, since mining pools also reveal a miner’s hash rate —the speed at which a miner completes an operation— researchers were also able to determine the amount of Monero coin-mining botnets have been generating per day.
Researchers say that during the past year, infected devices were responsible for 19,503,823.54 hashes/second, which is roughly 2% of the entire hashing power of the Monero network.
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