16 arrested for hacking Internet cafes to mine cryptocurrency

16 arrested for hacking at Internet cafes to mine cryptocurrency
A vector illustration of Young People Playing Games on an Internet Cafe

The group of hackers mined Siacoin cryptocurrency from hacked computer systems at hundreds of Internet cafes in the country.

Chinese police in Rui’An city of Zhejiang province have arrested 16 suspects for allegedly hacking into the Internet cafes’ computer systems in the city to illegally mine Siacoin cryptocurrency in July 2017.

According to a Chinese language news website Hangzhou, the group of hackers developed a malware that aimed at cryptomining, however, its infection further spread across Internet cafes in 30 cities and mined $800,000 (5 million yuan) from compromised computers.

What’s worse is that the scheme also involved an unnamed computer maintenance company used by several Internet cafes in the city – Authorities became suspicious after realizing that every compromised Internet cafe in the Rui’An city had hired the same maintenance company.

Police then arrested Ruan Zou, 35 years old, in charge of the company who accepted that he worked with hackers to deliberately install the cryptocurrency mining malware on hundreds Internet cafes’ computer system during the routine inspections.

This was the same time when the value of Siacoin increased from $0.002 over $0.01 giving hackers more profit than they initially thought. The Internet cafe owners, on the other hand, experience a sudden increase in electricity bills while their computer systems became slow. That’s because a cryptomining malware uses the computing power (CPU) of the targeted device.

“From October of last year to April of this year, Rui’an police evacuated Yunnan, Hunan, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Guizhou, Zhejiang and other places and seized another 12 criminal suspects, respectively, and they allegedly provided programs and tools for illegally controlling computer information systems. The crime of illegally controlling computer information systems was transferred to prosecution. At present, the case is still under further investigation,” said the police.

Authorities are still investigating the case, however, China’s crackdown on cybercriminals is not new. Last year, the Chinese authorities arrested 11 people for developing and infecting 250 million Windows-based devices with Fireball malware.

The latest arrest came at a time when neighboring country Japan is planning to charge hackers with crypto mining without consent. If charged, the case will be first of its kind in Japan where the defendants are charged with illegal cryptocurrency mining.

Image credit: Depositphotos

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