Thousands of Seagate NAS boxes host cryptocurrency mining malware

If configured for remote access, the devices expose a writable FTP directory to the Internet that attackers can abuse

Thousands of publicly accessible FTP servers, including many from Seagate network-attached storage devices, are being used by criminals to host cryptocurrency mining malware.

Researchers from security vendor Sophos made the discovery when they investigated a malicious program dubbed Mal/Miner-C, which infects Windows computers and hijacks their CPUs and GPUs to generate Monero, a bitcoin-inspired cryptocurrency.

With most cryptocurrencies, users can generate new units by devoting their computing resources to solving complex math problems needed to validate transactions in the network. This process, known as "mining," provides an incentive for attackers to hijack other people's computers and use them for their own gain.

Bitcoin mining malware used to be widespread some years ago, but as the cryptocurrency's network grew, mining became more difficult and using personal computers, which have limited computing resources, stopped being profitable. Some malware writers, like those behind Mal/Miner-C, have now turned their attention to newer cryptocurrencies, like Monero, that are easier to mine.

The Sophos researchers found that Mal/Miner-C does not have an automatic infection mechanism and instead relies on users to execute the malicious program. As such, it is distributed via downloads through compromised websites, but also through open FTP servers.

Attackers scan for FTP servers that are accessible from the internet and attempt to log in with default and weak credentials or with anonymous accounts. If successful, they verify that they have write access on the server and copy the malware in all of the available directories.

This explains why Sophos counted more than 1.7 million Mal/Miner-C detections over the past six months from about 3,000 systems. Most of the affected systems were FTP servers that hosted multiple copies of the malware in different directories.

The researchers used an internet scanning engine called Censys to identify public FTP servers that allow anonymous access with write privileges. They found 7,263 such servers and determined that 5,137 of them had been contaminated with Mal/Miner-C.

Another interesting discovery was that many of those FTP servers were running on Seagate Central NAS devices. While this malware threat does not specifically target such devices, it turns out that Seagate Central's configuration makes it easier for users to expose insecure FTP servers to the Internet.

By default, the Seagate Central NAS system provides a public folder for sharing data, the Sophos researchers said in a paper published Friday. This public folder cannot be disabled and if the device administrator enables remote access to the device, it will become accessible to anyone on the Internet, they said.

FTP servers that have been compromised by Mal/Miner-C contain two files, called Photo.scr and info.zip. Photo.scr is a Windows executable file, but its icon masquerades as that of a Windows folder to trick users into accidentally executing it.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags nasBitcoincrypto currencies

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?