#MWC18: It takes 16,000 phones to mine for £1k of cryptocurrency

#MWC18: It takes 16,000 phones to mine for £1k of cryptocurrency

Specialist firm Avast launches IoT security platform – and mines for Monero using a smart TV.

Cybersecurity firm Avast is using its presence at Mobile World Congress (#MWC18) in Barcelona to expose the security vulnerabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT). It is doing this by mining Monero, the popular cryptocurrency, using a smart TV.

Avast is also using #MWC18 to highlight the growing threat of cyber crooks hacking into people’s mobile and other devices to mine cryptocurrencies. 

Research from the firm suggests that 15,800 devices would be needed to mine just $1,000. As a result, cyber criminals are mounting mass attacks to pass the costs of mining onto strangers. 

Gagan Singh, senior VP and general manager of mobile at Avast, said hackers are increasingly turning their attention to cyptocurrencies. “Until recently, cybercriminals were focused on spreading malware to turn PCs into crypto-mining machines, but now we are seeing an uptick in attacks targeting IoT devices and smartphones,” he said.

“The costs involved in mining are so high that profit from cryptocurrency mining is very low, encouraging cybercriminals to attack not tens of thousands, but millions of devices.

“According to current data from Shodan.io, a search engine for internet-connected things, 58,031 smart devices in Barcelona [at #MWC18] are vulnerable. If each of these devices were recruited to a botnet to mine Monero at Mobile World Congress, cybercriminals could earn the equivalent of $3,600,” he added.

Read more: Flip and run: Contactless payment wallet for cryptocurrencies launched

Read more: Crypto mining: Why IoT users should worry about NVIDIA’s stock price

Smart Life platform

Avast also unveiled a new Internet of Things security service called Smart Life. It uses artificial intelligence to track and block cyber attacks.

Avast plans to offer Smart Life as a software as a service (SaaS) platform to both technology providers and customers. The new offering is targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, as well as at consumers.

With the platform, users have a quick and easy way to secure their connected devices and networks, said the company. They can do this while at home, in the office, or on the move.

Read more: IoT ramps up cyber security risk, says in-depth report

Internet of Business says

Combined with blockchain, cryptocurrencies could have an exciting role to play in the IoT, by embedding seamless payment systems into real-world environments, such as smart cities, spaces, and buildings.

However, Avast’s research is useful, as it provides yet more evidence that cryptocurrencies aren’t magic beans that grow into money trees in a virtual kingdom; they are deeply connected to the real world, the laws of physics, electricity, hardware, and all the labour and environmental costs that it takes to produce them. For any meaningful value to be attached to cryptocurrencies, the cost per watt of mining needs to be established.

As has been widely reported, it took more energy to mine for BitCoin in one year than was used by the entire Republic of Ireland in the same period.