Identifying Infection Methods for Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is the malicious use of a victim’s computer network to achieve one thing: stealing cryptocurrency. This growing problem targets not only companies but individuals as well. Cryptojacking was a fairly niche concern up until recently. In fact, in the first half of 2019, hackers made nearly 53 million cryptojacking hits against unsuspecting victims.

This form of Cyberattack works in a relatively simple and straightforward way, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to spot or prevent. Cryptojacking attacks often work by getting a victim to click a malicious link within an email that immediately loads cryptomining code onto their computer. Then this code runs in the background of a victim’s computer and generates profits for the hackers. The only indication that points to a cryptojacking attack against them is slightly slower computer speeds for most victims.

With this in mind, it’s crucial to better understand cryptojacking and learn how to identify cryptojacking before it hits.

What Types of Cryptojacking Risks Are There?

There are two methods of implementing a cryptojacking attack. The first is to trick a user into loading crypto mining software onto their computer. The techniques to do this are similar to those used in phishing scams. For example, a common method is to send users a legitimate-looking email encouraging users to click on a link. If the user clicks on the link, a script is loaded onto their computer, phone, or tablet, and runs silently in the background whenever they turn the machine on.

The next method that is used involves scripts being embedded in websites to run crypto mining software in someone’s browser. The most common example is the use of JavaScript advertisements. By inserting malicious code into the scripts, a user’s browser can create cryptocurrency without their knowledge.

The consequences of a cryptojacking infection may not sound too harsh, but they are. While cryptojacking scams do not aim to steal information, it may be used to deliver malicious code that will. Furthermore, even if the only result of an attack is to slow down a machine, companies can lose significant revenue in tracking down performance problems or even replacing computers that have been affected.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking

Because these attacks use similar techniques used in other types of cybercrime, the methods to prevent them should be familiar. Users should be aware of the dangers of phishing email attacks and be given training on identifying them.

Because many cryptojacking attacks are implemented through web browsers, security should be improved on them as well. There are several ways this can be achieved, such as operating with a good ad blocker to disable malicious scripts and using a web browser built with security in mind.

Successfully preventing cryptojacking relies on methods used to protect against other forms of cyberattacks. If employees at a company bring their own devices to work, this can also be a source of infection when linked up to the same network. With this in mind, businesses should be sure to use mobile device management software to manage potential cyber exposures.

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