The emergence of modern cyber threats directly related to the cryptocurrency sphere is a logical result of the growing popularity and rapid boost in virtual money prices. The information security industry is also improving, enabling users to prevent malware from infiltrating devices effectively.
There are high-quality tools for protecting and checking computers in order to quickly detect viral algorithms, including programs for hidden mining. We will talk about cryptojacking and its types and explain how to prevent cryptojacking while being on a decentralized land.
How Do People Use Cryptocurrencies?
In order to start using digital money, you have to buy it first. One of the most common ways to buy Bitcoin or Ethereum and other cryptos is using a cryptocurrency exchange like Changelly.
There are a wide variety of ways to use cryptocurrency. The facts listed below indicate that cryptocurrencies have truly become a breakthrough in finance and computing.
Conceived as a peer-to-peer e-money system, Bitcoin evolved in line with this idea for the first five years.
However, along with the growing popularity of Bitcoin, transaction fees began to rise, forcing many sellers to abandon cryptocurrency as a payment method. Back then, Bitcoin started to be positioned as a store of value, not a medium of exchange. Since it became unprofitable to use Bitcoin for small payments, its function practically passed to Bitcoin Cash, a cryptocurrency that appeared due to the Bitcoin fork in mid-2017. Since then, the BCH network has been used to make fast and inexpensive payments, with thousands of stores already accepting this cryptocurrency.
During the Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) boom in 2017, the number of cryptocurrency projects grew by leaps and bounds, with each of them creating their own altcoin. Most of these tokens were unable to survive due to low liquidity and failed. Some projects became outright scams, and after the ICO, the owners of the projects ran away with the money.
No one expects accounts and assets to be frozen, but in fact, such things can happen, especially in countries with insufficiently strong legal systems. If a person has made powerful enemies, he is accused of violating financial regulations, and the account is blocked. In this case, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin save the day. It is censorship-resistant and acts as a way of saving money that only the person holding the private key of the wallet has access to.
Many stock and securities traders have switched to the cryptocurrency market. The high volatility of the digital currency market allows traders to actively trade short and make large profits. If you haven’t tried your hand at trading yet, start with Changelly PRO. A user-friendly interface will not scare you away from incomprehensible charts but make your experience smooth and pleasant.
Moreover, cryptocurrencies can be collected. Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are unique digital assets. These are usually various collectibles used in computer games. Token holders trade or exchange with other community members or simply own a collectible.
NFT tokens cannot be called completely decentralized, because their value is determined by a central authority (for example, as in Cryptokitties) that controls the virtual world of the token. Collectible tokens represent an ever-increasing share of the crypto space. In the future, NFTs will be used in e-sports and virtual reality.
There are more ways to use and spend cryptocurrencies in the modern world. However, we are here to learn more about a malicious way of obtaining cryptocurrency – cryptojacking.
What Is Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is a type of malicious intervention into one’s computer or mobile device in order to use its computer processing 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.
How Does Cryptojacking Work?
The digital space evolves and so do hackers. Web-users became more educated in terms of cybersecurity than they were, say, ten years ago.
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 the 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.
The Latest Cryptojacking (Malicious Crypto Mining) News
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 the 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.
According to a leading crypto media outlet, Cointelegraph, Singaporian devices have experienced almost 12,000 attempts of cryptojacking attacks since the beginning of the year.
The article claims that the global COVID-19 pandemic situation is also responsible for increased cyberattacks.
In October 2020, Unit 42 specialists discovered a new version of the Black-T malware created by the TeamTnT hacker group and engaged in hidden mining of the Monero cryptocurrency.
In addition to cryptojacking, malware can steal user data, including passwords and bank account information.
Black-T reads unencrypted passwords of Windows OS users using the Mimikatz tool. This allows attackers to interfere with the computer even when the user is active.
The malware can also disable other hidden miners if they are already present on the device. It automatically attacks their files and installs its own cryptojacking software.
Researchers at Unit 42 believe that hackers will continue to expand the capabilities of the malware, especially to identify vulnerabilities in various cloud systems.
In January 2021, the cybersecurity experts at SentinelOne announced that some macOS computers have long been used by fraudsters for hidden cryptocurrency mining. OSAMiner has managed to evade detection for 5 years!
Malicious software appeared on the network no later than 2015. It was distributed through bootleg games and other programs, including League of Legends and Microsoft Office for Mac. OSAMiner primarily targets China and the Asia-Pacific region.
Also, experts from the PRC could not get the full OSAMiner code for study since it extracts it at different stages using AppleScript files nested inside each other, intended only for execution.
How to Detect Cryptojacking on Your Computer or Mobile Device
So, how can you find out if there are cryptojacking scripts on your device? Well, thankfully, it’s not that hard.
Cryptojacking code consumes a lot of computing power. Although that’s bad news for the victim’s computer, it at least makes it relatively easy to detect.
As we have just mentioned, cryptojacking consumes a whole lot of computing power. Because of that, one of the easiest ways to detect if your device loads cryptomining code every time you turn it on is monitoring performance.
Use in-built software like the Performance Monitor for Windows or the Activity Monitor on Mac to monitor your CPU usage – cryptojacking code can steal CPU processing resources.
Abnormal overheating is another sign that can mean there’s cryptomining code on your PC or mobile phone.
If your computer or phone alerts you that its performance has been slow lately, or you notice it yourself, there’s a possibility that there is cryptomining code on your device.
Scan For Malware
Use reliable antivirus software to scan your device for malware if you notice something seems to be off about your computer’s or mobile phone’s performance.
How to Prevent Cryptojacking
However, no matter whether you have experienced a cryptojacking attack in the past or not, the most important thing you can do is prevent it from ever happening again in the future. Although it is impossible to fully safeguard yourself against it, there are some steps you can take to minimize the chance of being a cryptojacking victim.
Installing reliable antivirus software is something everyone should do regardless of whether it’s cryptojacking they want to protect themselves against or not. Malware, just like biological viruses, only ever keeps on evolving and adapting to our defences, so you should make sure to get software that gets updated regularly and accounts for the latest cryptojacking trends.
Browser Extensions Designed to Block Cryptojacking
Most cryptojacking scripts are hidden on websites, so one of the best ways to protect yourself against them is using browser extensions that can either detect them or block such scripts completely.
You should also make sure that all extensions in all your web browsers are updated to the latest version and that you are not running any weird or suspicious extensions that you do not need.
In-browser cryptojacking scripts are often delivered through web ads, so getting an Ad Blocker can help to protect your device from crytomining code.
How Prevalent Is Cryptojacking?
According to a cybersecurity company Aqua Security, 95% of attacks on compromised cloud servers are aimed at the hidden mining of cryptocurrencies.
There are three reasons why cryptojacking is common:
- it does not require elevated permissions, is platform-independent, and rarely runs antivirus software.
- The code is often small enough to be discreetly inserted into open source libraries and dependencies that other platforms rely on.
- It can also be configured to tunnel depending on the device, and it can also use flavors of encrypted DNS to keep it quiet.
Anyone can be affected by a cryptojacking attack. However, security measures taken on time might protect you from malware intervention. If you notice any abnormal activity within your device, it is a red alert for you to act fast.
Changelly takes strong security precautions in order to provide you with instant and secure crypto swaps and purchases. Get access to over 200 digital assets and exchange crypto at the best rates. Buy cryptocurrency with your credit card (Visa, Mastercard), bank transfer, or Apple Pay. Stay safe.