New Delhi: The awareness and knowledge of cyber threats associated to digital currencies in India is very low, despite around 77% of Indians being familiar with such currencies, said a report released on Thursday by Avast, a consumer-focused cyber security software company.

Around 23% of consumers are unconcerned about cryptomining malware infecting their personal and smart home devices. Among this group, 39% mistakenly believe that cryptomining malware cannot affect them as they do not own or mine cryptocurrencies themselves, the report said.

Cryptomining malware, or cryptocurrency mining malware, refers to software programs and malware components developed to take over a computer’s resources and use them for cryptocurrency mining without a user’s explicit permission.

Indian consumers adopt an apathetic attitude towards malicious cryptomining, shows the report, which is based on research carried out by the company to better understand public perceptions and knowledge of cryptomining.

Around two-thirds (66%) of the consumers have heard of malware or infected websites mining cryptocurrencies, though they do not have sufficient knowledge about it, the report said.

“We are seeing a significant increase in cybercriminals recruiting Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smartphones to botnets with the intention to mine cryptocoins. The malware can run surreptitiously in the background on any smart device—it does not matter if the victim owns a cryptocurrency or not," said Martin Hron, security researcher at Avast.

A compromised machine or device can also increase the risk of personal data theft, the report said. “For victims, this can mean higher energy bills, lost productivity, poor device performance and shorter device lifespan," it said.

There have been a few cases where websites have offered visitors a choice between viewing ads or mining cryptocurrencies in the background. Half of the users in the India said they would choose cryptomining for an ad-free online experience, the report said.

In April, over 1,020 personal computer users were polled. Almost one-fifth (19%) own or invest in cryptocoins and 37% plan to invest in cryptocoins, the company claimed.

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