By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 25 November 2021 • 19:12
A Spanish couple arrested for hacking 16 store computers to mine cryptocurrencies. The pair, who installed malware on the store’s machines, intended to benefit from the lucrative trade in cryptocurrencies using the greater computing powere of the stores machines.
The malware installed by the couple enabled them to remotely manipulate the devices and in the process carry out the transactions. Staff in the store became suspicious when they noticed that the fans of the computers which were on display, were operating at maximum capacity. The staff examined the machines, which were new and on display, as they should not have been operating only to find they had been tampered with and were being controlled remotely.
The autonomous police force in Tarragona (Mossos d’Esquadra) were called and their investigators identified who was behind the breach, despite their attempts to hide their identity and their location.
Had the breach not been identified, the hackers would have stood to make significant profits
So how did they do it?
CCYV showed that the couple had visited the store pretending to be buyers. The woman would get the store employee to turn the machine on so she could look at it before moving to another machine and repeating the process. Each time her partner would remain behind and use a USB stick to upload the malware.
Hacking 16 store computers to mine cryptocurrencies hacking resulted in significant financial damage, with the 24hr usage of the machines causing extensive damage to the machines. The damages are believed to be in the region of €20,000.
Cryptomining takes extensive computing power as well as consuming large amounts of electricity. The equipment needed is expensive plus the heavy usage and openness to malware means that cryptominers, prefer where possible to use someone else’s machines.
There is a lesson to be learnt. Installing antivirus or malware software will quickly identify and deal with breaches of this nature.
It is not known when the Spanish couple arrested for hacking will appear in court.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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