The cloud allows you to mine cryptocurrency without having your own equipment.
Ransomware and crypto scammers have begun to misuse cloud mining services to launder digital assets, just as government hackers have long done, according to a new report from Chainalysis, an analytics company.
Chainalysis experts have stated that cryptocurrency mining is an important part of our industry, but it also has a special attraction for attackers, as it provides a means to get money from a completely clean original source on the network.
Cloud mining services allow users to rent a computer system and use its hashrate to mine cryptocurrencies without having to manage the mining hardware themselves.
In one example provided by the company, mining pools and wallets linked to the attackers were used to send funds to an “active deposit address” on an unnamed crypto exchange. $19.1 million was transferred from four scam wallets and $14.1 million from three mining pools, with a significant portion of the funds channeled through a network of intermediate wallets and pools.
In such a scenario, a mining pool acts similarly to a cryptocurrency mixer in that it obscures the origin of the funds and creates the illusion that the funds are from mining rather than ransomware victims.
An indication that this trend is gaining momentum is the cumulative value of assets sent from ransomware wallets to exchanges via mining pools. The value has risen from less than $10,000 in the first quarter of 2018 to nearly $50 million in the first quarter of 2023.
It has also been found that since January 2018, deposit addresses have received about $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies from scam addresses. At the same time, 372 addresses of scammers received cryptocurrency worth at least $1 million from mining pools.
Chainalysis noted that overall, the evidence suggests that mining pools may play a key role in the money laundering strategy of many ransomware actors. Crypto scammers and money launderers working on their behalf also use mining pools as part of the money laundering process.