Internet Cafes Hacked to Mine $800k in Siacoin Cryptocurrency

A group of hackers have allegedly colluded with computer maintenance firms in China to place malware on internet cafe computers to mine cryptos.

AccessTimeIconJun 19, 2018 at 6:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:04 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

A group of hackers has allegedly colluded with computer maintenance firms in China to hack into computers owned by internet cafes to mine cryptocurrency.

According to a local news report on Saturday, police in Rui'An city in Zhejiang province arrested 16 suspects who, it's claimed, have gained 5 million yuan ($800,000) by hacking more than 100,000 computers in internet cafes across 30 Chinese cities since July of last year.

The report said the hackers first developed a piece of malware that can specifically mine the siacoin cryptocurrency on an affected device, then marketed it to computer maintenance firms who allegedly helped to inject the malware to computers at internet cafes whilst carrying out routine checkups.

The profits made by mining and selling the siacoins would then be split among the hackers and their alleged accomplices, the report said.

The issue emerged in July 2017 when internet cafes in Rui'An started to notice their computers had become extremely slow, since the CPU usage rate was often at 70 percent even after a restart.

Notably, it was also at a time when the price of siacoin jumped by 400 percent from $0.002 in May to over $0.01 in July, data from CoinMarketCap shows.

Meanwhile, the utility bills of the affected internet cafes in Rui'An also went up significantly during that period, the report said. Subsequently the owners reported the case to the local police.

Since most internet cafes in Rui'An used the same computer maintenance firm (which was unnamed in the report), the police arrested the firm's chief executive officer in August, who later revealed information on the hackers.

Currently, the investigation is still ongoing, since the malware has now spread across more than 30 cities in China, with over 100 computer maintenance firms in the country being allegedly involved.

Internet cafe image via Shutterstock

Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.


Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.