BlackBerry and Intel Tackle Cryptojacking Malware With New Detection Tool

BlackBerry and Intel are hoping to halt cryptojacking attempts on Intel's commercial PCs with a new mining malware detection tool.

Jun 22, 2020 at 1:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:54 a.m. UTC

Software firm BlackBerry and tech giant Intel have joined the fight against crypto-mining malware with the launch of a detection tool for Intel's commercial PCs.

Dubbed the the BlackBerry Optics Context Analysis Engine, the tool utilizes "unique" processor telemetry from Intel's Threat Detection Technology and a mix of machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to thwart the malicious programs, often dubbed cryptojackers.

The technology is also designed to consume limited CPU processing power when in use, BlackBerry said, adding that it "effectively stops cryptojacking" on Windows computers with the tool installed.

Cryptojacking involves the installation of malware on a device from a malicious third party in order to hijack computing power to mine cryptocurrency (often monero) without the user's knowledge or consent.

"Given the cost associated with mining cryptocurrency and the payments of ransomware demands on the decline, cryptojacking becomes an attractive option for threat actors to generate revenue," Josh Lemos, vice president of research and Intelligence at BlackBerry, said in a press release Friday. "The days of exploiting unsuspecting users for free CPU time are over."

Indeed, cryptojacking has soared in popularity with cybercriminals. According to a recent data breach investigation report by Verizon, "around 10% of organizations received cryptocurrency mining malware at some point throughout the course of the year [2020]."

Over the last year, a number of major cryptojacking attacks have been discovered affecting many thousands of companies. Browser users and apps on Android and Windows have also been affected.

One attack saw mining malware installed on a company server via a flaw in Salt, a popular infrastructure tool used by major firms such as IBM, LinkedIn and eBay. And in January, Interpol led an operation trying to tackle a malware infecting over 20,000 routers.

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