Andrey Shalnev and Maxim Zavodchik said in a blog post that the campaign, which they have named Cryptosink, was using a five-year-old vulnerability in Elasticsearch to gain entry to the servers.
The initial infection vector was a malicious HTTP request that targeted Elasticsearch.
In the case of Windows servers, a malicious executable was downloaded directly to the server by calling the certutil utility that ships with Windows and is used to manipulate SSL certificates.
The cryptominer also ensured it had primacy on the servers it infected by redirecting the traffic generated by any other miners already on the machine to a sinkhole, thus shutting them down.
And to prevent its removal, the mining malware wrapped the Linux remove command rm with code that would result in its re-installation if removed.
The malware was also able to backdoor the server by adding the SSH keys of the person who was carrying out the attack.
And it used several command and control servers, with the current live one being in China.
Shalnev and Zavodchik said the rise of cryptomining botnets and the decline in crypto currency value meant there was tough competition among the various currencies.
"Threat actors deploy new creative tactics to take competitors out of business, take control over CPU resources, and retain persistency on the infected server," they said.
"Ironically, the cryptominer sinkholing technique deployed by the current attackers could be also reviewed by defenders as a countermeasure. However, to avoid the initial infection, defenders should deploy a more effective patching processes, whether it is done in the code or virtually by a Web application firewall."