Beware of Bitcoin mining virus: How to detect and prevent it?

About Bitcoin mining viruses

According to Kaspersky Lab, the number of computers and mobile gadgets contaminated with crypto viruses increased by 44.5% in 2018. Hackers no longer extort money with the help of cryptographic viruses – they simply incept a crypto virus on your PC without attracting any attention. How BTC miner virus can harm your devices and what can be done to keep the Bitcoin mining virus at bay?

What Is a Crypto Virus?

To put it simply, this is a piece of code/software that runs the process of hidden mining on users’ PC or smartphone. 

Hidden mining is the process of mining cryptocurrency by an attacker using the computers of unsuspecting victims. The most commonly used hidden mining viruses serve to get Monero or ZCash. Applications are being installed specifically for the mining of small altcoins, because it is more efficient to mine some smaller coin with one PC core than Bitcoin with all the power of a PC. Moreover, such viruses can even run on Android OS. There have also been cases when hackers used NiceHash and MinerGate. 

Pretty often, the developers of mining viruses are not limited by just mining on a CPU or a graphic card – they supplement their programs with various spyware functions. For example, a Bitcoin virus can steal crypto wallets files, data for entering social networks or credit card data. Moreover, after such attacks, the computer becomes extremely vulnerable and unsafe to use.

How Does Cryptocurrency Mining Virus Work?

The principle of work is very simple. The program performs a hidden launch of the miner and connects it to a mining pool. These actions load the processor seriously. The main objective of Bitcoin mining virus is to receive money for unauthorized use of other people’s computing power. The fraudster receives the cryptocurrency earned by the victims directly into his wallet. 

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Mining pools are an ideal way to create such botnets, because most platforms support an unlimited number of users connected to the same address and their affiliation does not need to be proved. After getting connected to hundreds of computers, a hacker can enjoy pretty good income and use the services of the largest mining pools. 

How does Bitcoin mining virus spread and how to detect it

Typically, cryptocurrency viruses enter computers the following ways:

  • Downloading of files from the Internet. Hackers find many ways to distribute their programs and embed them on dubious sites. Torrents are a common way for virus distribution.
  • Physical contact with a contaminated device. You can also catch such software using other people’s flash drives and other hardware storage devices.
  • Unauthorized remote access. Classic remote hacking is also performed this way.

You can find a lot of news on how people tried to use hidden mining software at work by ‘infecting’ entire offices. In some cases, hackers spread their software through Telegram.

You might download 100% safe software (games, patches, utilities, etc), but it will be contaminated during the process of updating. Such things happen, too. 

How BTC crypto virus can be hidden?

Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to detect a crypto virus. There are three most widespread approaches to hiding a Bitcoin virus:

  1. Virus acting as a service. In this case, you won’t see any separate process Task Manager. System resources will be used by some svchost.exe, which is an absolutely legal system process. If you deactivate it, most likely your Windows PC will simply cease working.
    What to do in such a situation? You can search for a service with a suspicious name through msconfig.exe, but there is a more efficient approach – use Process Explorer free software.
  2. Slow mining. In this case, the virus software is designed not for quick cryptocurrency mining, but rather for ensuring the longest possible lifetime of the mining virus. Such software does not devour all available system resources but spends them moderately. At the same time, if some resource-intensive program is launched, the virus stops working so as not to slow down the OS and complicate its detection. Advanced miner viruses even monitor the fan speed so as not to overload the system by excessive use of computing power. Since some of such viruses stop working when the Task Manager is running, they are unlikely to be detected this way.
  3. Rootkit mining virus is the most complicated type of malware. Neither the Task Manager nor the most effective antivirus can detect such a miner virus. How to discover such Bitcoin virus? The point is, a rootkit needs to be in constant contact with the mining pool. If left on the idle mode, an ordinary computer practically does not access the Internet. This is when you can notice the presence of a hidden miner virus in your system. If you have spotted something like this, you are unlikely to be able to deal with it yourself – ask for specialists’ help.

A Short Crypto Virus Removal Guide

You can easily detect a simple Bitcoin miner: open the Task Manager and find any task that uses more than 20 percent of the CPU power. Most likely, this is a hidden miner. All you need to do is to finish the process.

If you think your computer is contaminated with malware, you should scan it with the latest versions of crypto virus scanners, such as Reimage or SpyHunter 5. Such a tool will immediately detect and remove the Bitcoin virus. Also, specialists recommend using the solutions from Dr. Web, CureIT, and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. 

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Be sure to check the system immediately, notice changes in the speed of your computer, because this is the only way to get rid of this threat without additional problems. If you have a Bitcoin virus on your computer, you can expect to discover other viruses – eliminate them all to prevent loss of your sensitive information.

How to Prevent the Crypto Virus?

There are several measures that ensure decent protection against BTC virus when taken simultaneously:

  • Install and regularly update your antivirus software. Do not forget to check the system for suspicious programs from time to time.
  • Keep your OS up to date.
  • Watch what you download and install. Remember that the threat is often hidden in hacked software, so a freebie can result in additional costs.
  • Do not visit websites without SSL certificates.
  • Try special software. In particular, there are plugins that quite effectively protect your browser from hidden mining: MinerBlock, Anti-WebMiner, and Adblock Plus.
  • Make regular backups. If you accidentally catch a crypto virus, you can get rid of it by rolling back the system to the latest “healthy” version.

Bottom Line

Like any other malicious software, Bitcoin mining virus removal gets into users’ computers when those don’t take adequate safety measures. Pay attention to the files you download, websites you visit, and the devices you use. If you notice a serious computer performance slowdown, this is a reason to check it for Bitcoin viruses.