YouTube ads are being misused to mine digital currencies with a malware attack called ‘cryptojacking’. Hackers are reportedly leveraging the computer processing power of YouTube viewers to carry out the mining process of cryptocurrencies.
The issue was highlighted last week when users reported that their anti-virus software was blocking certain ads on YouTube for containing mining code called CoinHive. The code used about 80 percent of the viewers’ CPU power to generate digital currency for anonymous hackers, all without the users’ knowledge.
Cryptojacking is known to have affected users in countries including Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy and Spain. Researchers from Trend Micro also discovered the abuse of Google’s DoubleClick advertising platform as there was a three-fold increase in the number of people using CoinHive in the same week, Ars Technica reports.
Meanwhile, a Google representative is quoted as saying in the report, “Mining cryptocurrency through ads is a relatively new form of abuse that violates our policies and one that we’ve been monitoring actively. We enforce our policies through a multi-layered detection system across our platforms which we update as new threats emerge. In this case, the ads were blocked in less than two hours and the malicious actors were quickly removed from our platforms.”
The interest in virtual currencies and its mining processes has surged owing to last year’s spike in valuation of Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency valued at a whopping $20,000 per unit in December. Cyrptojacking, on the other hand, is turning out to be an efficient way of extracting ransom from victims. Instead of asking for money following a ransomware attack, hackers can use the victim’s computer processing power to straightaway mine cryptocurrency. As noted on RT.com, while ransomware is the number one infection globally, cybersecurity experts consider cryptominers as the number two threat.