Zcash, a cryptocurrency that debuted on 28th October 2016, is believed to be more anonymous than the overhyped Bitcoin. This new virtual currency has attracted the attention of investors, academics as well as hackers since the latter have managed to use this new currency for their malicious purposes.
Reportedly, hackers are installing software on Windows-based computers and forcing the machines to mine Zcash for them. When the software is installed, the computer starts funneling Zcash to the attacker and thus, becomes a zombie computer. It is believed that through mining Zcash, one infected computer can generate a profit of around $75,000 annually for the attacker(s).
The software not only consumes processor time and stuck up RAM but also increases your power bill to mine Zcash. The malware is distributed through other malicious links such as those for pirated software.
CoinWarz says that “If Bitcoin is like HTTP for money, Zcash is HTTPS.”
As per Alexander Gostev, a researcher from Kaspersky, currently, there are around thousand infected computer devices. While founder and CEO of Zcash, Zooko Wilcox said users need to take preventive measures such as downloading anti-malware.
“Unfortunately, we have no way to prevent this kind of thing, since Zcash is an open source network, like Bitcoin, that nobody (including us) controls. Our recommendation to security companies that detect this kind of activity, like Kaspersky, is that their software should alert users when potentially malicious software (like that described in their blog post) is detected, and give the user the option of shutting it down or, if it was deliberately installed by the user, allowing it to run,” said Wilcox.
Nevertheless, Zcash is claimed to be ASIC resistant, lightweight and very much decentralized and makes mining with plebian hardware a profitable idea in the long run. It is possible to mine Zcash on your mobile phone too. According to Gostev, “downloading mining software to a PC doesn’t necessarily have severe consequences for a user’s data.”
“However, it does have the effect of increasing the energy consumption level of their machine, which results in more expensive electricity bills. Another consequence is a heavy load on the PC’s RAM because mining software consumes up to 90% of available memory, which leads to a significant performance slowdown” added Gostev.
This type of activity is not surprising as far as the world of virtual currencies is concerned and Bitcoin has already been through a range of botnet mining pools over the past few years. Even its alternatives such as Dogecoin have received such attacks.