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Iran Turns to Cryptocurrency Malware and Cryptojacking Amidst Economic Downturn

Iran Bitcoin

Hackers in Iran are reportedly developing elaborate illegal means of obtaining cryptocurrency. This move comes as the country’s economy continues its downward spiral amidst the impending renewal of sanctions from the United States.

Iranian Hackers are Ramping up Crypto Malware and Cryptojacking Attacks

According to the Wall Street Journal, researchers at the Accenture’s iDefense cybersecurity-intelligence group have discovered five new types of cryptocurrency ransomware with links to the middle eastern country. Speaking to WSJ, Jim Guinn, the industrial cybersecurity chief at Accenture, said that these exploits were designed to extract payments in Bitcoin–the top-ranked cryptocurrency.

In a report published by Accenture on Tuesday (August 7, 2018), the company warned that Iran appears to be ramping up its hacking activities. According to Accenture, the country’s government seems to be behind a lot of the clandestine operations. Also, government-backed hackers and local criminal organizations may also be part of the hacking cartel.

Apart from cryptocurrency ransomware, Accenture also reported an increase in Iran-linked cryptojacking activities. Cryptojacking is the act of stealing processing power from computers to mine cryptocurrencies. Unlike ransomware, it doesn’t wholly hijack the affected computer and can remain undetectable if the affected person isn’t observant.

In recent times, cryptojacking has managed to overtake ransomware as the leading form of cryptocurrency crime on the internet. According to Accenture, Middle Eastern oil and gas firms have been the target of these attacks. In fact, Guinn said that his firm had done a lot of work solving the problem for many companies.

Meanwhile, Iran has vehemently denied the allegations, calling them malicious. Commenting on the matter, Alireza Miryousefi, the chief press officer at the Iranian United Nations mission office said:

“These claims come from private firms that have repeatedly embellished their capabilities and claimed spectacular findings in order to convince other private firms and foreign governments into buying their products. This simply is a poorly made false advertisement.”

Cryptocurrency as an Escape Route for Troubled Iran

Iranians are increasingly turning to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies due to the severe economic climate in the country. With the imminent return of U.S. sanctions and the added economic problems that will follow, digital currencies have been promoted as an escape route for the country’s government.

Even the with the ban by the country’s apex bank on local banks facilitating crypto transactions, virtual currencies continue to remain popular. There are also reports that the government might create a state-issued cryptocurrency to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions.

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