Cryptocurrencies' popularity has skyrocketed in the past couple of months.Pixabay

Cryptocurrencies' growth has made coin mining popular as it is an easy way to earn money online. Unfortunately, this has paved a new path for cybercriminals, who take advantage of unsuspecting users of web browsers.

According to cybersecurity firm McAfee, cryptojacking and other crypto mining schemes on the web have continued to rise, as they are cost-effective methods to infect users' systems and collect payments without needing any third parties.

In fact, it found that samples of the malware "CoinMiner" or "CoinMiner-FOZU!" grew by 629 percent in the first quarter of 2018, skyrocketing from around 400,000 total known samples in the fourth quarter of 2017 to more than 2.9 million the following quarter. That means an average of five new threat samples every second.

Raj Samani, the chief scientist at McAfee, said the attacks had taken place worldwide and targeted businesses and individual users alike. He added that cybercriminals "continued to adopt cryptocurrency mining to easily monetize their criminal activity."

Two of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange attacks took place in Korea this month. Coinrail reported over $40 million loss in altcoins, while Bithumb said it lost over $30 million in an alleged attack.

Criminals are now moving from data theft to ransomware as it is "a more efficient crime," according to Steve Grobman, chief technology officer at McAfee.

"Cybercriminals will gravitate to criminal activity that maximizes their profit. With the rise in the value of cryptocurrencies, the market forces are driving criminals to crypto-jacking and the theft of cryptocurrency."