Zcash cryptocurrency, a new opportunity for cyber criminals

Pierluigi Paganini December 12, 2016

Zcash (ZEC) is a new cryptocurrency that promises a total anonymity, it is already attracting a great interest from miners and of course cybercriminals.

Zcash (ZEC) is the cryptocurrency of the moment, it was presented on October, 2016 and respect the popular Bitcoin it is totally anonymous. With this premise, the Zcash has attracted a great interest from investors, miners and of course cybercriminals.

A few hours, 1 ZEC reached $30,000, and this is normal considering that there was a high request and only a few dozen coins available. Now the situation is normal, the value of a ZEC declined compared to the one of the Bitcoin, at the time of writing, it is 0.07 – 0.01 ZEC/BTC (around $70).

According to the experts from Kaspersky Lab, despite this drop, Zcash mining remains among the most profitable compared to other cryptocurrencies, this means more opportunity for cyber criminals that started creating botnets for mining.

“In November, we recorded several incidents where Zcash mining software was installed on users’ computers without permission. Because these software programs are not malicious in themselves, most anti-malware programs do not react to them, or detect them as potentially unwanted programs (PUP). Kaspersky Lab products detect them as not-a-virus:RiskTool.Win64.BitCoinMiner.” reads a blog post published by Kaspersky.

Crooks are distributing Zcash miners through pirated software via torrents, but the experts still haven’t seen any cases of mass-mailings campaign with this specific purpose.

Kaspersky also discovered a couple of websites distributing mining programs:


Anyway, malware researchers believe that it is only a matter of time, criminal organizations will their botnets to deliver the miner on already infected systems or to spread the threat.

Consider that an average machine is able to mine about 20 hashes per second. A botnet composed of one thousand computers can mine about 20,000 hashes a second, that at current prices correspond to $6,200 a month in net profits.

The researchers explained that the most popular mining software to date is nheqminer from the mining pool Micemash, which allows earning payments in both bitcoins and  Zcash.

“Both are detected by Kaspersky Lab products, with the respective verdicts not-a-virus:RiskTool.Win64.BitCoinMiner.bez and not-a-virus:RiskTool.Win64.BitCoinMiner.bfa.” continues Kaspersky.

The researchers explained that also for Zcash is possible to ‘snoop’ on some of the wallets used by criminal organizations and discovery the amount of money they received. (i.e. https://explorer.zcha.in/accounts/t1eVeeBYfPPLgonvi1zk8e9SnrhZdoCBAeM)

Zcash allows two types of wallets, completely private purses (z-address) and public wallets like the one shown above (t-address).

“At the current time, the completely private wallets are not very popular (they are not supported by exchanges), and are only used to store around 1% of all existing Zcash coins.”

Kaspersky has spotted roughly 1,000 unique users who have some version of the Zcash miners installed on their machine under a different name, a circumstance that suggests their computers were infected.


Give a look at the analysis published by Kaspersky for more information.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Zcash (ZEC), cybercrime) 

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