The Rise of Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking, also known as malicious cryptomining, is becoming an emerging online threat that hides on a computer or mobile device and uses a machine’s resources to mine, or gather, forms of online money known as cryptocurrency. It’s a rising menace that can take over web browsers in addition to compromising electronic devices.

Like most other malicious attacks, the motive behind a cryptojacking Cyberattack is profit. However, unlike many threats, it’s designed to stay completely hidden from users. For now, Detection tools, like those created by BlackBerry and Intel, are using a mix of machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to thwart the malicious programs, often dubbed cryptojackers. But, there’s still more to learn. With that in mind, here’s a better look at cryptojacking malware.

What is Cryptojacking?

Instances of cryptojacking have skyrocketed by more than 400 percent in recent years, according to a report from the Cyber Threat Alliance. Cryptojacking is a way for cybercriminals to make free money without having to put in a lot of effort. Hackers can simply hijack someone else’s machine with only a few lines of code.

This ends up leaving the victim bearing the weight and cost of the computations that are necessary to mine cryptocurrency. In the end, the cybercriminals get away with the crypto tokens.

How Cryptojacking Works

There are a few ways cryptojacking can take place. One of the more popular ways is to use malicious emails that can install cryptomining code on a computer network. This is done through phishing efforts. The victim on the receiving end gets a seemingly harmless email with a link or attachment, and when they click on it or download the attachment, it runs a code that downloads the cryptomining script on the computer. From there, the script works in the background without the victim knowing it.

Another way cryptojacking is executed is through web browser mining. In this method, hackers inject a cryptomining script on a website or in an ad that is placed on multiple websites. When the victim visits the infected site, or if a malicious ad comes up in their browser, the script automatically executes.

In both of these methods, the code solves complex mathematical problems and sends the results to the hacker’s server while the victim is unaware.

Detecting and Preventing Cryptojacking

As with any other type of malware infection, there are some telltale signs victims can notice on their own. Here are some symptoms to keep in mind:

  • High processor usage on the device
  • Sluggish or unusually slow response times
  • Overheating of the device

On top of using a security software and being more aware of how cryptojacking works, companies can also install ad-blocking or anti-cryptomining extensions on web browsers for an extra layer of defense. As always, it’s important to be sure to remain aware of phishing emails, dubious links, and unknown attachments.

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