With the rise of cryptocurrencies, cybercriminals have found a new way to profit – cryptojacking. This form of cybercrime involves hackers exploiting the computing power of unsuspecting individuals and organizations to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge or consent. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of cryptojacking, exploring its workings, potential impacts, and effective measures to mitigate this stealthy threat.
What Is Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking refers to the unauthorized use of someone’s computing resources to mine cryptocurrency. Instead of investing in expensive hardware and paying for electricity, cybercriminals hijack other people’s devices, such as computers, smartphones, and servers, to perform the resource-intensive process of mining.
How Cryptojacking Works
Cybercriminals employ various techniques to infect devices and initiate cryptojacking
1. Malicious Links: Hackers utilize phishing emails or create fake websites with malicious links that, when clicked, inject cryptojacking code onto the victim’s device.
Impact On Victims
Cryptojacking may not directly cause damage or steal personal data, but it can have several detrimental effects
1. Performance Degradation
The mining process consumes significant computing resources, leading to slower device performance, increased energy consumption, and overheating.
2. Financial Costs
Cryptojacking can result in higher electricity bills for individuals and businesses, as the mining process requires substantial power over extended periods.
3. Network Vulnerability
Some sophisticated cryptojacking scripts can spread across a network, infecting multiple devices and making detection and removal more challenging.
Cryptojacking Trends And Mitigation
1. Evolving Landscape: The prevalence of cryptojacking fluctuates with the value of cryptocurrencies. However, recent law enforcement actions and the closure of prominent cryptomining platforms have had a dampening effect on this cybercrime.
2 Law Enforcement Crackdowns: Authorities worldwide are actively targeting cryptojacking operations, aiming to disrupt and dismantle these illicit activities.
3. User Protection: Individuals can protect themselves against cryptojacking by implementing the following measures:
- Keeping software and operating systems updated to patch vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.
- Using reputable antivirus software with built-in cryptojacking detection capabilities.
- Being cautious of suspicious links, emails, and websites, avoiding clicking on unknown or unsolicited sources.
- Employing browser extensions that block cryptojacking scripts and ads.
1. Microsoft Store Apps: In 2018, eight apps in the Microsoft Store were discovered to contain hidden cryptojacking code, infecting users’ devices and utilizing their resources for mining.
2. Los Angeles Times’ Website: The popular news website was compromised in 2018, with cryptojacking code injected into one of its pages, exploiting visitors’ devices to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge or consent.
3. Industrial Control System Attack: In 2019, a European water utility control system was targeted, resulting in disruptions to the facility’s operations and potentially compromising the safety of the water supply.
4. YouTube Ads: In a high-profile case, cryptojacking code was found running on YouTube Ads through Google’s DoubleClick platform, affecting users who encountered these ads.
How To Detect And Protect Against Cryptojacking
Cryptojacking detection can be challenging, but there are several signs to watch out for:
1. Decreased Performance
- Sluggishness: If your device is running slower than usual, experiencing frequent crashes, or exhibiting poor performance, it could be a sign of cryptojacking. The mining process consumes significant computing resources, leading to a decrease in overall performance.
- Battery Drain: Cryptojacking can cause your device’s battery to drain quickly, as the mining process requires substantial power.
- Fan Activity: Cryptojacking is a resource-intensive process that can cause your device to overheat. If you notice that your device’s fan is running faster or louder than usual, it could indicate the presence of cryptojacking scripts.
3. Increased CPU Usage
- Check CPU Usage: Monitor the CPU usage of your device using the Task Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Mac). If you observe high CPU usage when visiting websites with minimal media content or performing simple tasks, it may suggest the presence of cryptojacking scripts.
To Protect Yourself Against Cryptojacking
1. Use a Robust Cybersecurity Program
- Install reputable cybersecurity software that includes anti-malware and anti-cryptojacking features. Programs like Kaspersky Total Security can help detect and block cryptojacking attempts.
- Keep your security software up to date to ensure you have the latest protection against emerging threats.
2. Stay Informed
- Stay updated on the latest cryptojacking trends and techniques used by cybercriminals. This knowledge will help you recognize new attack vectors and take appropriate preventive measures.
3. Browser Extensions
- Install browser extensions specifically designed to detect and block cryptojacking scripts. Popular options include minerBlock, No Coin, and Anti Miner. These extensions work by identifying and blocking cryptojacking scripts from running in your browser.
4. Ad Blockers
- Since cryptojacking scripts are often delivered through online ads, using an ad blocker can provide an additional layer of protection. Ad Blocker Plus is a widely used ad-blocking extension that can help prevent cryptojacking ads from appearing on your device.
6 Block Known Cryptojacking Pages
- Maintain a carefully curated whitelist of trusted websites and consider blacklisting websites known for delivering cryptojacking scripts. Regularly update your blacklist or whitelist to stay protected against new cryptojacking pages.