Could Your New Jersey or New York Business Fall Victim to Cryptojacking?

June 20, 2018
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Businesses Are Increasingly Falling Victim to a New Cyber Scheme Known as Cryptojacking…

Businesses around the world are increasingly falling victim to cryptojacking – a new cyber scheme where criminals hijack central processing unit (CPU) power from unsuspecting computer users to mine cryptocurrencies. The rapid evolution of cyber threats highlights the importance of regularly updating your company’s cybersecurity and data protection protocols.

Could Your Business Fall Victim to Cryptojacking?

Photo courtesy of NeONBRAND (Unsplash.com)

Cryptojacking Poses Growing Threat

Cryptojacking is the latest scheme involving malware spread via fake online advertisements. When a user clicks on the ad, it executes malicious code that allows the attackers to mine cryptocurrency via the user’s browser. More sophisticated attacks can infiltrate vulnerable systems that simply display the illegitimate ad without any involvement by the user.

Some websites allow browser-based cryptomining as a means of generating income. Unlike cybercriminals, legitimate websites use a small percentage of the computer’s resources to run mining code in the background, but only if visitors provide consent. Conversely, hackers use far more aggressive techniques and circumvent security features to remain undetected for as long as possible.

Earlier this year, cryptojacking surpassed ransomware as the number one type of attack on the internet, according to Akouto. The Canadian cybersecurity firm’s servers tracked a 3,500 percent spike in attempted intrusions in March of 2018.

“March was an incredibly active month for the combined malvertising-cryptojacking attack,” said Akouto founder Dominic Chorafakis. “Starting on March 7th, our central monitoring servers recorded a spike in attacks being blocked by managed Intrusion Prevention systems on customer networks,” Chorafakis continued. “The attempts were detected at virtually every site at a rate that was 3500% higher than the months prior. Reports in April showed a decrease in activity but still averaged 700% higher than the first two months of 2018.”

While cybercriminals may not steal data, cryptojacking can result in a loss of productivity for business because it slows systems, makes them use more energy, and may even render them unresponsive. Devices infected with the malware may also suffer from an increase in application crashes and may stop working completely.

Cyber Vigilance Is Essential

Staying on top of cyber threats is increasingly important, as both regulators and customers are holding companies more accountable for lapses in security. In New York, the Department of Financial Services continues to roll out its cybersecurity regulations.

As discussed in greater detail in prior articles, the regulations require that financial service companies “establish and maintain a cybersecurity program designed to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the Covered Entity’s Information Systems.” The cybersecurity requirements further mandate that covered entities implement cybersecurity policies that are tailored to their unique risks and needs.

Of particular note, entities subject to the DFS regulations must appoint a chief information security officer to implement and enforce the policies. Other requirements under the regulation include: adopting policies and procedures designed to ensure the security of information systems and nonpublic information accessible to, or held by, third-parties; requiring multi-factor authentication for individuals accessing internal systems who have privileged access or to support functions including remote access; drafting an incident response plan to recover from any cybersecurity event; and conducting annual penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. This February, new annual certification requirements took effect under which a board member or senior officer at all regulated entities must certify annually that the company is in compliance with the DFS cybersecurity requirements. 

In New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal recently announced the creation of a new civil enforcement unit, known as the Data Privacy & Cybersecurity (DPC) Section. The new DPC Section will be housed within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group and will be tasked with enforcing laws that protect New Jersey residents’ data privacy and cybersecurity by bringing affirmative civil actions against violators.  Among other priorities, the DPC Section will assume responsibility for the Office’s ongoing investigation into Facebook’s transfer of personal information to Cambridge Analytica. According to Facebook, approximately 1.6 million users in New Jersey were impacted.

In addition to enhanced regulatory scrutiny, businesses also face increased reputational harm in the wake of a cyberattack. Customers now expect companies to have robust data security procedures in place and assign blame when they fall short. Given the risks, businesses should consider taking steps to mitigate the risk of cryptojacking, such as reviewing software patch policies, analyzing website security, and implementing security programs that can block access to crypto mining scripts. 

Do you have any feedback, thoughts, reactions or comments concerning this topic? Feel free to leave a comment below for Fernando M. Pinguelo. If you have any questions about this post, please contact me or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work. To learn more about data privacy and security, visit eWhiteHouse Watch – Where Technology, Politics, and Privacy Collide (http://ewhwblog.com).