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Interpol Announces Successful Operation Against Cryptojacking in Southeast Asia

Interpol announced on Wednesday that it has coordinated an international operation aimed at removing illegally installed cryptocurrency miners from routers located in Southeast Asia.

The operation, dubbed Goldfish Alpha, was conducted in cooperation with Trend Micro, along with law enforcement and CERTs from ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The operation was launched in June 2019 and participants worked over a five-month period to identify compromised routers, alert victims, and install patches that would prevent cybercriminals from controlling the devices.

Trend Micro and others reported in August 2018 that hundreds of thousands of MikroTik routers around the world had been infected as part of a massive cryptojacking campaign. Cybercriminals planted malware on the routers by exploiting a vulnerability that had been patched by the vendor several months earlier.

Over 20,000 of the compromised MikroTik routers were found in the ASEAN region and Interpol reported that the number was reduced by 78% as a result of Operation Goldfish Alpha, and efforts to clean up the remaining devices continue.

Interpol pointed out that the operation also increased awareness of cryptojacking among law enforcement organizations, as well as showing them how these types of threats can be identified and mitigated.

Based on data collected by Trend Micro, cryptojacking was the most detected threat in the first half of 2019 in terms of file-based threats.

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Related: MikroTik Router Vulnerabilities Can Lead to Backdoor Creation

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.