In the far-off past of 2009, a new revolution of cryptocurrencies was debuted to us when Bitcoin became the world’s first decentralized digital currency. At that time, no one clearly knew who invented it, how trustworthy was its visions, and how far its dreams would go. Fast forward to today, it is impossible to imagine a world where these digital assets don’t exist.
Dozens of other new players have entered the market, dramatically increasing popularity and value over the years. Self evidently, where there is money to be made, there is an undeniable threat to crime.
Cryptojacking is a type of cybercrime where a criminal will secretly use a victim’s computing power to generate/mine virtual currencies. Statistically, the number of cryptojacking attacks currently being reported has overtaken ransomware as the biggest cybersecurity crime.
Let us start from the very top.
Cryptocurrencies circulate and keep increasing in value because of their design in supply. When Bitcoin was invented, the plan was to mine only a significant amount of the assets and let them circulate; pretty much like fiat currencies.
Cryptomining occurs when a computer’s processing cycle is exchanged for money. Mining is performed by individuals who use high-powered computing servers and other specialized hardware. Mining computation uses a hash function that adds a block to a blockchain, thereby earning a cryptocurrency in return.
Cryptojacking is malicious crypto mining. Criminals will steal unsuspecting victims’ computing power and resources by hacking either into business or personal devices and installing mining software. Very unnoticeably, the software will start using the computer’s power and resources to mine crypto assets. In worse circumstances, hackers may steal already established cryptocurrency wallets owned by the victims.
Surprisingly, despite the high computational power necessary to mine, the lines of code necessary to launch an attack are just a few lines and easy to deploy. The major giveaways of a cryptojacking attack are when victims start to notice slow computer response times, overheating, extremely poor processor usage, and high electricity bills.
Whereas ransomware was previously the most popular attack scheme in the crypto space, its downsides are anonymity. Yes, the attackers could mask their identity as much, but the payments demanded had to be paid somewhere, which is a definite investigation trail. In cryptojacking, illegal crypto mining is hard to detect, and also, tracing back to the hacker is extremely difficult.
Means Cryptojacking Scripts are Spread
There are three main ways hackers could launch their software scripts on your systems, as explained below.
- File-Based Cryptojacking
Probably the most popular means, malware is downloaded and run as an executable file designed to spread the crypto mining script throughout the entire IT infrastructure. The most common way these files get launched is when downloaded unaware as a legitimate email. Immediately an attachment or a link is clicked, the code is executed, and the crypto mining script is launched to work in the background.
- Browser-Based Cryptojacking
This occurs directly within the web browser. Hackers are implementing this decoy by developing a crypto mining script and embedding it in various websites. The scripts are primarily embedded in ads or outdated WordPress plugins, which run automatically when the code is clicked.
- Cloud Cryptojacking
Sometimes hackers can use the cloud infrastructure to spread a cryptojacking script. This occurs after hackers search through an organization’s files for API keys to access cloud services. Once access is gained, the criminals siphon enormous CPU resources for mining.
How To Detect a Cryptojacking Compromise
As I did mention earlier in passing, crypto-jacking is difficult to detect especially when the attack is newly launched. Only after a certain while can you, as the victim, begin to notice a shift from optimal performance in your system resources.
Below are the tell to signs of a cryptojacking attack
- Overall decrease in computing performance
- Increased power consumptions/ higher bills
- Constant Overheating
- Abnormal CPU usage
- File or code changes to your website
Prevention Measures Against Cryptojacking
We ought to understand and work around cybercrime because there is no one-proof solution for all our needs. Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to circumvent already established protection solutions. Therefore, we must remain proactive and be on top of whatever threat; however it arrives.
Here are some tips on preventing cryptojacking attempts.
- Install anti-virus software- This measure by now should be a rule of thumb. Always use your security software to scan for malware and identify foreign scripts. While at that, dutifully maintain your software in its latest update to counter new attack threats you might not be aware of.
- Doubt everything – Be it an attachment sent via email, random ad popups or links, avoid clicking on them, or better off, use adblockers to detect and block crypto-mining scripts.
- Deploy anti-crypto mining extensions – More often, crypto mining scripts are deployed in web browsers. Using browser extensions such as minerBlock, No Coin, and Anti Miner should have you covered.
Cybersecurity awareness is a top concern for us at mycryptoparadise.com as we continue to give you the best crypto alerts and accompanying crypto trading signals. A protected trader is, after all, our best client.