An analysis of a year’s worth of cyberattacks on “honeypot” servers set up by the cybersecurity firm Aqua Security, shows a majority of the attacks targeted earning revenue through mining crypto on compromised servers.
These particular cloud servers were deliberately misconfigured to attract cyberattacks in an attempt to learn how such attacks take place and how to stop them. The study covers the period between June 2019 and July 2020.
- According to Aqua's recent report, of the 16,371 attacks on its decoy servers over the last year, 95% were aimed at mining cryptocurrency through deploying malicious programs to hijack the cloud computing power.
- The attacks on the firm's misconfigured servers also registered a sharp rise at the beginning of this year, with attacks per day rising from about 12 in December 2019 to 43 per day in June 2020.
- While honeypot servers can help understand the methods used by attackers, the report by Alpha Security admits the results might be "profoundly biased towards a single initial access point," indicating that similar studies analyzing multiple compromised access points or a supply-chain attack may reach different conclusions.
- Although honeypot serves cannot accurately simulate real-world conditions, they can offer insight into the malicious programs used to compromise cloud servers and the motivations driving such attacks.
- Aqua Security's study also found the attacks aimed at mining crypto on its decoy servers appeared to prefer mining monero (XMR) over other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. “We speculate that they choose monero since it is considered significantly more anonymous than bitcoin,” the report noted.
- A July report by Microsoft found that while rising volatility and mining difficulties have deterred crypto-mining attacks overall, users in countries such as Singapore, Vietnam and India face a relatively higher risk of being exposed to an attack.