Cryptojacking: The New Threat to Your Online Security

Ever since cryptocurrency became a worldwide sensation, cybercriminals have been in the constant pursuit of making the most money out of it. This has led to a brand new form of online attack called cryptojacking. Cryptojacking has become a new headache for modern-day businesses that were already struggling against the threat of several other cybercrimes.

However, before we talk in detail about crypto-jacking, it’s vital to understand the concept of cryptocurrency and cryptomining.

Cryptocurrency and Cryptomining: A Quick Overview

Simply put, cryptocurrencies are decentralized digital currencies. Like real money, cryptocurrencies can also be used to make payments for goods and services online. Cryptocurrencies are powered by blockchain technology. Bitcoin is one of the most valuable and widely known cryptocurrencies at present.

Every crypto transaction is recorded in a blockchain ledger distributed over a verified network. This provides a strong layer of security and trustworthiness to cryptos. This process of adding transactions to the blockchain ledger is known as cryptocurrency mining, or crypto mining. It also involves creating and adding (mining) new virtual currency to the system. 

Cryptomining is done by crypto miners. They leverage high-powered and specialized computers to solve complex cryptographic mathematical equations for mining cryptos. Miners receive excellent rewards (usually in the form of cryptocurrency) for every block of crypto mined by them. This makes the whole cryptomining process very lucrative, thereby piquing the interest of cybercriminals!

Cybercriminals have turned to cryptojacking to mine more and more cryptos unethically. Since the monetary reward of cryptomining is very high, the number of cryptojacking attacks is also rising. So what is cryptojacking, and how is it a problem for your business? Keep reading to get all your questions answered.

What Exactly is Cryptojacking?

In the simplest terms, cryptojacking is an illegal and malicious way of mining cryptocurrency by using your device’s processing power. What happens here is that cyber attackers hack into the computers or mobile devices of individuals or businesses to launch malicious software into them.

This software then enables the hacker to misuse the victim’s device’s (including their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) resources and processing power to mine cryptocurrencies without their knowledge or consent.

There is just one purpose behind cryptojacking: earning more and more money.

While cryptomining is very profitable, it also requires the miners to spend a significant amount of money on building a dedicated cryptomining system. This is something cybercriminals don’t want to do. Thus, they resort to cryptojacking, which enables them to secretly use the victim’s computer system to mine valuable cryptos.

The hackers end up with a large amount of cryptomining money while the unfortunate victim is left with a slower device, poor performance, and increased electricity and internet bills.

How Does Cryptojacking Work?

There are two ways a hacker injects cryptojacking malware into the victim’s device.

The first method is where the hacker tricks the victim into loading a malicious cryptomining code on their device. This is commonly done through tactics similar to phishing. The hacker sends an email (that appears to be totally legit and authorized) containing a malicious link.

So, when the victim taps these links, the cryptomining code gets installed on their device. This enables the hacker to access the victim’s device and use it to mine cryptocurrencies in the background.

The second way the hacker accesses your computer’s resources is called drive-by cryptomining. In this approach, the hacker embeds a piece of malicious cryptojacking script into a website or a pop-up ad that is delivered to several websites.

When the user visits the website or clicks on the ad, the code automatically executes itself on the user’s browser. In this approach, the JavaScript code is not stored in the victim’s device.

The end result is the same no matter what approach the attacker uses. The malicious code or software uses the victim’s device and CPU’s resources to solve complex cryptomining problems. It then sends the solutions to the cyber attacker’s server.

What are the Impacts of Cryptojacking on Individuals and

Businesses?

Unlike other cybercrimes, cryptojacking doesn’t usually pose the risk of data theft. However, it can still have serious security implications for individuals and businesses.

Let’s discuss some of the common impacts of cryptojacking:

Reduced lifespan of your device

Cryptojacking increases the workload of your device to a great extent. This causes problems like overheating, quick battery drainage and more.. All of this will ultimately reduce the lifespan of your device.

Reduced Productivity

Cryptojacking slows down the performance of your computer systems. This has a direct impact on the productivity of your employees.  

Increased Expenses

Due to overheating and excessive wear and tear, you’d have to spend additional money on replacing damaged parts or getting them fixed. Again, this results in an unnecessary financial burden.

hacker using cryptojacking techniques to access devices

Ways to Detect and Respond to Cryptojacking

Detecting cryptojacking is far from simple. This cryptojacking malware is designed in such a way that it remains hidden from the victim. It secretly works in the background while you use your device.

However, certain red flags can warn you about the ongoing cryptojacking attack on your system. If you notice these signs at the right time, you can do damage control and reduce the negative impact of the attack on your device.

With that said, let’s look at some of the biggest tell-tale symptoms of cryptojacking.

Overheating

Has your computer, laptop, or mobile device started overheating even with minimal usage? If yes, then it can be a major sign of cryptomining happening in the background.

Increased CPU usage

Cryptomining consumes a lot of computer resources. Thus, if you have noticed an unusual spike in your device’s CPU usage, it can be a sign that something is wrong. 

Poor battery performance

Poor battery performance can also be an indicator of the presence of malware in your computer system.

Slower device performance

If your device is becoming sluggish and is taking too long to respond, something is definitely wrong with it! Slow processing performance is one of the first symptoms of cryptojacking.

Promptly responding to a cryptojacking attack is essential for your business. The quicker you are with your countermeasures, the better things will be for your organization.

If you’ve detected cryptojacking malware in your system, here are some things you can do:

 

  • First and foremost, close all the windows on your browser and exit out.
  • Update all of your browser extensions and remove the ones that are infected. Also, remove all the extensions that you don’t use.
  • Run a complete antivirus scan to find out if any other threats are present on your system.

5 Effective Ways to Protect Yourself Against Cryptojacking?

Here are some of the most effective tips and tricks to help prevent your organization from becoming a victim of cryptojacking:

Train your team and educate your employees

Employees are the biggest asset for every business. If they are equipped with the latest knowledge and preventive measures about cryptojacking, preventing such an attack becomes easier.

Always use an ad-blocker

Most hackers embed cryptojacking scripts in pop-ups and web ads. Ad-blockers can help you steer clear of such issues. Using a good ad-blocker will help you detect and block malicious advertisements. 

Try anti-cryptomining extensions for your browser

Browser extensions often come embedded with malicious cryptojacking codes that can harm your device.

An anti-cryptomining extension can go a long way in helping you block unsolicited cryptocurrency miners all across the web. minerBlock and Anti Miner are two excellent anti-cryptomining extensions available.

Disable JavaScript when browsing the Internet

Doing so will help you block cryptojacking scripts and codes from invading your device. However, the only disadvantage of this tactic is that it will also block certain important web browsing functionalities.

Keep your devices up-to-date

Always ensure to download and install the latest software updates and security patches on your computer or mobile phone. Not doing so can leave your device vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other online threats.

Summing It All Up

Cryptojacking attempts are rising rapidly, and preventing them is also getting more challenging. If it goes undetected and unresolved for a long time, cryptojacking can slow down your network, paving the way to bigger security threats and can cause severe financial consequences for you.

It’s important that you and your organization take all possible preventive measures and adhere to the highest security standards available. Constant vigilance and solid security strategies are the only way to stay safe from the clutches of this growing digital menace. 

Tech Masters helps businesses protect their data and networks with top-notch security and comprehensive IT support, individually tailored for each organization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help and click here to sign up for a free business IT assessment. 

For more information about cryptojacking, check out our frequently asked questions below. 

 

FAQ

 

Is cryptojacking a virus?

Cryptojacking is a type of malicious software or malware that hides in your computer system. It steals your computing resources to mine cryptocurrencies without your knowledge.

What impact can cryptojacking have on your devices?

Cryptojacking can have certain severe impacts on your computer and mobile devices. It is a type of malicious software that is quite similar to a parasite. It drains all the battery life and resources of your computer and increases your device’s CPU and internet usage. It can also make your device overheat, thereby reducing its lifespan.

How do you detect cryptojacking?

Here are some of the major tell-tale signs of cryptojacking:

  • A sudden and unusually high CPU usage
  • Overheating of your device
  • Quick battery drainage
  • Slower device performance

 

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