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What is cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is cybercrime involving unauthorized access into a victim’s computer and using its resources to mine cryptocurrency. The malware targets a computer’s processing power but not the data.

Mining crypto makes use of specialized computers with high-performance processors. Additionally, the process consumes a lot of power. Crafty miners developed cryptojacking malware as a way of “hijacking” foreign computers and profiting from their resources. The threat of malicious crypto mining is not only risky for computers but also for mobile devices.

Through the infected computers, the hackers generate new crypto blocks and new tokens. Subsequently, they transfer the earned mining rewards to their own digital wallets and leave power and computer maintenance costs to the victim.

Tricks used in Cryptojacking

Hackers play different tricks to lure a victim into a cryptojacking trap. One of the popular methods is phishing. A seemingly valid email is sent to an unsuspecting victim, convincing them to click on a link that appears in the email. Once the victim accesses the link, it executes a JavaScript code that guides the script on the computer’s operating system infecting the machine. It works as a background process, and the hacker can now use the computer to mine cryptocurrency.

Placing the JavaScript on cryptojacking websites is the another hacking strategy. One of the most convenient techniques of the website cryptojacking trick is through deceptive adverts. Once a victim opens the infected website or the misleading advert, it loads via the internet browser.

After that, the script executes on its own. Though the code does not move to the computer’s local storage, the code computes the mathematical puzzles whose answers get relayed to a server set up by the hacker. When the browser or tab is closed, the script stops working. If the cryptojacking JavaScript program is similar to a computer worm, it can duplicate itself and infect other devices sharing the same network. If this is the case, then getting rid of the script becomes an awful task.

Unlike other forms of malware, cryptojacking scripts do not tamper with the host computer’s data. However, some scripts scan the availability of a related but competing malware on the target computer and tries to deactivate it if it lacks the “kill prevention” capability.

Detecting cryptojacking

Though cryptojacking detection may prove too elusive, exploring these tell-tale signs could prove helpful. The slowing of computer systems is a crucial symptom of overloading and could be due to cryptojacking. Suppose the computer task manager shows high CPU usage on a website that looks relatively light. In that case, crypto mining processes are likely executing on the website. Moreover, cryptojacking can cause overheating in computers. The over-utilization of the processing mechanisms of a computer causes this. A noisy computer fan for a significant period should create concerns.

ICT personnel must keep a keen eye on the company’s websites to detect any code changes. Adjustments to a website’s files or pages should raise a crypto jacking red flag too. Ultimately, it’s vital to regularly scan your systems to detect any infection at a good time.

Safety Measures Against Cryptojacking

As with other online threats, prevention is better than cure when it comes to cryptojacking. Detecting whether your system is infected is often tricky. Abnormal computer processes may disguise themselves as legitimate and thus harder to suspect. Thus, it’s better to put in place preventive measures before you fall a victim.

One safety measure is disabling JavaScript when browsing. However, this measure’s downside is that it can shrink your browsing experience by limiting some necessary functions.

Ad-Blockers can also serve as reliable security measures that can detect and stop the auto execution of crypto mining codes.

Anti-cryptomining browser extensions like “No Coin” and “MinerBlock” can also stop cryptojacking attempts. However, comprehensive programs like Malwarebytes that deal with diverse online threats other than cryptojacking provide more reliable protection since online threats morph with time. Due to the exponential increase in mobile devices’ usage, it’s vital to introduce mobile device management solutions (MDM) to help track and notify you of the presence of crypto mining apps on your mobile devices.

Above all, it is vital to engage in pro-active ICT personnel training on crypto jacking detections and the earliest appropriate measures.

Summing up

Due to the detection challenges of crypto mining, preventive measures serve a crucial role in dealing with the cryptojacking threats. Since not all attacks are made public, it’s challenging to estimate cryptocurrency amounts mined by cryptojacking. However, from the few revelations made, there’s no question that the threat is widespread. Cryptojacking may get even more rampant due to the high profits it brings with minimal risk and cost.

Users need to put in place a regularly updated cybersecurity plan which addresses all online risks. Past infection experiences offer opportunities for weakness analysis to avoid future cryptojacking attempts.

 

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