Hackers are conducting several malware campaigns involving cryptojacking tools and vulnerable MikroTik routers. Their clever technique eliminates the need to infect websites with cryptojacking malware, and instead shifts the focus onto unpatched routers enabling them to reach many more endpoints, while not restricting mining to a single web page.
Researchers have discovered at least three separate campaigns, two of which have been seen unfolding in Brazil and Moldova. In total, 210,000 routers from MikroTik have been involved in the campaign.
Because hackers are leveraging a known bug in unpatched routers, they have created an entry point that enables them to mine cryptocurrency using all the computers connected to that router. Their miner of choice is (perhaps not surprisingly to some) none other than the infamous Coinhive.
Trustwave researcher Simon Kenin explains:
“The attacker created a custom error page with the CoinHive script in it [and] if a user receives an error page of any kind while web browsing, they will get this custom error page which will mine CoinHive for the attacker.”
The hack exploits a known vulnerability in the Winbox component of MikroTik routers, a flaw that was reportedly discovered in April this year and patched within the next day. However, numerous such routers remain unpatched, as it is usually the case when the updating process is shouldered both by the vendor and the end user.
IT managers and average Joes alike should install the latest MikroTik firmware as soon as possible. While cryptojacking isn’t the most dangerous thing in the world, it’s nonetheless a practice sanctioned by security experts everywhere. Plus, you never know when a known vulnerability gets exploited for more nefarious purposes, such as ransomware. In short, patch now!