Your electricity bill arrives and shows that your consumption has doubled. You haven’t done anything out of the ordinary, so what’s happening? It’s possible that someone has been using your computer to mine for cryptocurrencies without your knowledge and consent. You’ve just become a cryptojacking victim.
Cryptojacking is the process of unauthorized mining for cryptocurrencies. Cybercriminals mine for Bitcoins using victims’ computers (typically the servers of large enterprises with ample processing capacity), so they won’t have to buy their own high-powered computers and pay the enormous electricity bills.
Read More about “Cryptojacking”
Cryptocurrency mining has been in existence for more than a decade now. The only reason that not everyone does it is that the process requires high-end computer hardware. That doesn’t mean, however, that only those with the processing capacity do it.
Some cryptocurrency miners engage in unlawful cryptojacking. In 2018, in fact, cryptojacking unseated ransomware as the top cyber threat. But how do cybercriminals mine cryptocurrencies using someone else’s computer?
Tools Cybercriminals Use to Enable Cryptojacking
Cryptojacking requires the installation of cryptocurrency mining malware on users’ computers.
1. Classic Malware
Cryptojackers often send emails containing a malicious link to victims. Once clicked, a malware gets automatically downloaded onto the computer without the user’s knowledge. The cryptojackers can then install a cryptocurrency miner on the infected machine and start the operation.
2. Drive-By Cryptomining
Most cryptojackers use both forms of attack to ensure optimal returns. Most malware and scripts have worm capabilities, allowing them to infect connected devices and servers.
How do You Protect Against Cryptojacking?
Detecting cryptojacking is hard. It’s also difficult to trace the source of high central processing unit (CPU) usage since a legitimate process often masks most cryptocurrency mining operations. Troubleshooting can also be challenging as cryptojackers usually adjust their usage to evade detection.
As such, the best way to prevent cryptojacking is to protect against malware and malicious scripts. That’s easy to do with a cybersecurity solution that detects and blocks threats from the source. One that prevents users from accessing malicious sites and webpages is best, too.
Known Cryptojacking Threats
We have seen cryptojacking at work over the years using these threats:
PowerGhost came with spear-phishing emails. It steals victims’ Windows credentials to take over their computers, allowing attackers to disable antimalware and competing cryptominers if any. After that, it’s free to mine for cryptocurrencies using the infected system.
Graboid is the first cryptomining worm. It affects unprotected Docker Engine systems connected to the Internet. All of the infected computers become part of the attackers’ botnet designed to mine for cryptocurrencies.
BadShell uses legitimate Windows processes to hide its cryptocurrency mining operation. To do that, it runs a script that injects malicious code into ongoing processes.
While cryptojacking does not damage your computer, it does use up your processing resource and hikes up electricity costs. While slow computer performance may only be annoying to individuals, organizations whose operations rely heavily on fast computers can incur financial setbacks due to decreased productivity. These reasons make cryptojacking a problem that requires quick resolution.