Hardware company QNAP issued an advisory to clients last week after finding an ongoing attack on its network-attached storage devices (or NAS devices, which connect to the internet), as per a report on security outlet Bleeping Computer. The attack sees affected devices illicitly mine Bitcoin.

Based in Taiwan, QNAP is a large player in the file storage and memory devices space. Such devices contain the computing prowess that can be put to mining Bitcoin—via thousands of complex calculations each second to maintain the network and receive “rewards”—making QNAP a target of the attack.

The mining malware has itself been dubbed “Dovecat” by security experts, who say it has been affecting computing systems (other than QNAP) since November last year. It’s a bane for QNAP’s customers, as the malware ends up hogging all computing power available, making their devices unusable for everyday work.

Weak passwords to blame

On its part, QNAP identified the use of weak passwords for its NAS devices as the major source for the malware intrusion. “According to analysis, QNAP NAS can become infected when they are connected to the Internet with weak user passwords," the firm said.

To safeguard against such malware, QNAP asked all clients to update and use more difficult passwords, install malware detecting programs, and update their NAS devices to the latest software.

QNAP added that it was developing its own anti-malware safeguard for clients. “[QNAP] has made it a priority to develop a solution that will remove Dovecat from infected devices,” the firm said in its advisory.

Bitcoin mining malware and “cryptojacking” attacks have risen proportionally in the past years with the growth of the crypto market. Researchers estimate over 52 million computers fell victim to such attacks in the first half of 2019 alone, with similar numbers in 2020.