In late 2017, the crypto-currency market exploded as the price of Bitcoin neared $20,000. This dizzying increase not only prompted users to speculatively buy and sell crypto-currency in a classic “get-rich-quick” fever, but it also increasingly motivated malware authors trying to mine the much-desired currency using the hardware of their victims.
The mining craze has gone so far that malicious crypto-mining has dethroned ransomware by a factor of 100 to 1 in terms of prevalence. Now, after months of intensively targeting Windows users, malicious crypto-currency mining is rapidly expanding to the Mac space, according to reports on Apple’s support forum.
The tell-tale signs of a crypto-miner infection include a massive drop in performance and abnormal overheating, as the system’s resources are directed towards complex cryptographical operations.
“Hi - I have mshelper constantly showing in CPU of Activity Monitor at super high levels. I probably wouldn't have noticed except I installed BitDefender today and it's continuously showing me that it's deleting it,” reads the original reporter’s notice. It turns out that the device, infected with XMRig (an open source Monero miner), was using resources to mine digital currency for the bad guys.
Fortunately, crypto-currency miners are relatively easy to remove, But, in the absence of a security solution, even the simplest of malware can pose serious trouble to computer users. Left untreated, these infections chronically stress the devices’ hardware and wear them out prematurely.
This is not the first time rogue crypto-miners target the Mac OS X operating system in an attempt to extort money with minimal effort. Several such campaigns that have been identified since January this year demonstrate how creative and persistent operators of malicious crypto-mining schemes can be. So, next time you feel like your device is overheating or running exhaust fans at full blow, take a moment to run a security scan with your favorite antimalware solution for Mac OS X.