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2020 keeps bringing surprises and, most of the time, they are not as pleasant as they could be. Most of us stay at home now and this is a perfect condition for cybercriminals to initiate attacks. We will talk about cryptojacking and its types and explain how to prevent cryptojacking while being on a decentralized land. Here we go.
In its core, cryptojacking is a type of malicious intervention onto one’s computer in order to use its computational power for cryptocurrency mining.
Using different fraudulent methods of intervention, bad actors implement malware and programs tailored to steal a computer’s CPU. Such ‘dangerous’ lines of code are hard to discover so unsuspected victims cannot understand why their computers are overheated, and the response time takes ages. While a computer is working hard during your daily digital routine, hackers make your PC solve difficult mathematical problems to add new blocks in a blockchain and get a reward.
Cryptojacking is rapidly gaining momentum as the crypto industry is moving towards mass adoption. There are multiple ways to ‘catch’ a virus and get hacked and this is where we kindly remind you to stay safe. All the necessary precautions will be provided below.
The digital space evolves and so do hackers. Web-users became more educated in terms of cybersecurity than they were, say, ten years ago. Yet, cryptojackers are quite ingenious and able to infect your device without you even noticing.
The way cryptojacking works is quite plain: a user clicks a link that uploads lines of infected code. The code is activated automatically to literally suck computer resources for hacker’s demands or, in case of cryptojackers, mining needs.
Cryptojacking via Websites and Emails
The most well-spread method of cryptojacking is internet advertisements and banners. You are probably familiar with conventional clickable web ads that promise a rich piece of something right now. You are also aware that these are dangerous and might infect your device with rampant malware. However, cryptojackers are smart enough to enslave your computer smoothly and invisibly.
The ‘bad’ scrypt is often incorporated into, for example, a website’s WordPress plugin or ads reflected on this website. The owner of a website might not know about the issue, but the code will be spread among users. It hurts both clients and the website’s reputation but enriches cryptojackers.
Besides ads, hackers might send emails on behalf of trustable services and companies. The email will probably look unsuspicious and legitimate and contain an attachment or a link that leads to a weird website. Once activated, the link will upload insidious lines of code to a computer. You won’t even notice that something is wrong, but your computer will ‘mine’ cryptocurrency in the background, leaving you with lower computer productivity and higher electricity costs.
Cloud services are quite convenient when we talk about data storage. However, it is also a perfect target for cryptojackers. They search through a user’s data or files of a particular organization to find breaches and API keys for quick access to cloud servers. Once done, hackers use cloud resources to mine cryptocurrency. A user or an organization, in their turn, wonders why the cloud account bills have increased drastically.
How to Detect Cryptojacking
As described above, it is challenging to find the breach and the starting point of a cryptojacker’s intervention. There are several factors that can signal about suspicious activity within your computer.
If your devices (mobile, tablet, computer, and so on) are synchronized, this does mean hackers can use their computational resources as well;
Mining takes too many computational powers. Thereby putting extra work on your devices. If you notice that your device is being overheated most of the time, it is reasonable to use an antivirus program to scan the computer;
Pay attention to the electricity bills. If they are increased dramatically at the end of a month, this might mean you are not the only one using it;
If your PC starts to work slower, simple Google requests take ages to be processed, and the performance of your devices is decreased, it is highly recommended to check up Activity Monitor (for Mac users) or Task Manager (for Windows users);
Update your devices and browsers on time. Every update brings essential bug fixes that protect your computer from breaches and vulnerabilities;
Organizations, bloggers, and whoever provides digital services have to scan their website code for any vulnerabilities on a regular basis. They are partly responsible for users’ malware affection.
How to Prevent Cryptojacking
Cryptojacking protection does not include one single solution. It is a complex and routine work that takes time. Still, there are rules to follow to stay safe in cyberspace.
Use antivirus software to scan your computer from time to time. It may take away future pain. Besides, it can detect other vulnerabilities that can be fixed promptly;
As we always say – knowledge is power. Be sure you and your team are aware of such a nasty way of invasion. Cryptojacking attacks do not aim to steal your private information (most of the time) but hijack CPU and slow the work of your computer down;
There are a wide range of ad-blockers extensions that stop the reflection of suspicious/spam banners while surfing the web.
The most infamous cryptojacking attack occurred to the largest cryptocurrency miner, Coinhive in 2018. The service promoted so-called browser mining and allowed websites to get revenue by using Coinhive script. Websites would no longer place annoying ads but earn extra income. However, cybercriminals modified Conhive scrypt so that it could mine cryptocurrency (Monero) via users’ browsers in the background. This situation led to the closure of Coinhive service in 2019, yet there are still many victims.
Pursuing the idea to protect web users from cryptojacking attacks, ex-smartphone manufacturer Blackberry has recently partnered with Intel. Both companies aim at launching a cryptojacking detecting system to provide users with solid anti-cryptojacking software.
Anyone can be affected by a cryptojacking attack. However, security measures taken on time might protect you from a malware intervention. If you notice any abnormal activity within your device, it is a red alert for you to act fast.
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