With the introduction of Bitcoin, we witnessed the dawn of cryptocurrencies in 2009, and since then, this new method of online payment has been gaining popularity around the world. Kaspersky, an antivirus software company that offers cybersecurity products, estimated that cyber frauds would highly increase in 2021.
Since cryptocurrencies’ values are rising, malicious hackers on the Internet have begun targeting them through cryptojacking. This leads us to reflect on the question: What is cryptojacking? Whether you are a beginner or an expert in the field of cryptocurrency, knowing and understanding this cyber fraud is vital.
To define cryptojacking, we need to define crypto mining first. Cryptomining’s meaning is the verifications of cryptocurrency transactions and their subsequent addition to the blockchain ledger. Cryptojacking meaning is malicious cyber work in which an unsuspecting user’s computing device may be used for crypto mining. When cryptocurrencies are mined, hashes are solved for block generation, which is to be included in the blockchain.
Another process would be transaction verification. During these processes, the computing device tries different passwords for countering encryption on the user’s system. This process is called mining or crypto mining. The computer’s system continues to try out varying passwords on, for instance, a user’s personal computer or laptop, which would include amalgamations of numerals and alphabets.
This process would continue until the system finally cracks the correct password. For the mining to be carried out, a miner only requires a computer. Different cryptocurrencies demand different solving powers. Bitcoin, for example, demands a high degree of processing power. In the case of other digital currencies, a simple laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone’s operating system would be sufficient for a crypto jacker to hack your computing device to further mine cryptos.
How Does Cryptojacking Work?
Now that the basis for cryptojacking meaning is clear, this section will explain the working of cryptojacking. An important point to note is that the victim remains unaware when one of the three main ways to carry out his fraud act.
One way would be to lay down a trap for the unsuspecting individual by making him install malware into his computing device unknowingly. The following steps demonstrate how a crypto jacker may trick you:
- Let’s say you received an email from an unknown person or websites. The email contains one or more links that are highlighted or embedded within the text. They look completely harmless.
- Within the email, you will be either encouraged to click on the highlighted link or promised to be taken to another website. Curious, you click the link.
- This step leads to the crypto mining code getting installed into your device’s web browser, along with a mining script, which contains code to hack into your computing device and control it.
- In order to mine cryptocurrencies, the computer’s processing power is required. The script embedded into your system via the malicious link would now activate and use a portion or complete management of your computer system’s processing power to carry out the mining process.
- While the cybercriminal mines the crypto, he would keep an eye on it and simultaneously transfer the crypto wallet rewards.
Drive-By or In-House Crypto Mining
Drive-by crypto mining is another way a crypto jacker would use your computer to mine cryptocurrencies. Surprisingly, this cyber fraud has its roots in legal trade. It occurs when a user doesn’t hide the fact that he was using or would be using a specific operating system for the crypto mining process. Drive-by crypto mining is also called in-house crypto mining.
The definition of this process states that when a user unknowingly allows another person to use his computing device’s processing power for mining. An example that you may have come across is a pop-up window stating the need to enter a particular CAPTCHA to prove humans and not bots. This window comes up while proceeding to mine cryptocurrencies, mainly the Monero cryptocurrency.
Cloud Crypto Mining
Thirdly, cybercriminals may use the cloud platform to mine cryptocurrencies. They may gain access to your cloud service through the computer’s files.
How to Prevent Cryptojacking
Cryptojacking attacks have been on the rise recently, mainly because the victim remains unaware of the fraud committed against him. So how can you prevent cryptojacking? Here are a few expert tips to keep in mind and follow to avoid crypto jackers from mining through your computer system:
- If you are an organisation or company, ensure that all your employees receive proper training on countering a cryptojacking incident.
- Sufficient knowledge on vital topics such as - what is cryptojacking, how to detect and prevent cryptojacking, and more, should be attained by all employees and users who crypto mine.
- There are extensions available that help in blocking cryptojacking scripts. It is recommended to use them as an extra protection layer.
- Also, if you have an ad-blocker, activate it. Download one if it isn’t already installed on your computer system.
How to Detect Cryptojacking
Detecting cryptojacking is not easy; however, it is very important to know when your computer system may be under attack. Below are some of the main signs to look out for:
- A system’s decline in performance would majorly signify a cryptojacking attack.
- Since during the mining process, considerable power is needed, your computer may face issues of overheating.
- Keep tabs on your and your team’s CPU power spending amounts. An accelerated usage signifies cryptojacking attacks.
- Hackers usually target websites on which they can load the mining scripts. Since the Internet in the contemporary age is an indispensable part of our personal and professional lives, it is extremely vital to verify the visited websites.
- Perform timely scans for malware, and it will lead you to the crypto mining scripts.
The Latest Cryptojacking News
Here are a few real-world examples where cryptojacking was carried out to harness an unsuspecting computer system’s power to mine cryptocurrencies.
In December 2020, the Microsoft research team reported that cybercriminals named BISMUTH had begun to use Monero cryptojacking as a cover-up for more serious attacks.
According to cryptojacking statistics, the second quarter of 2020 witnessed a massive increase of over 160% in attacks, mainly in-browser crypto mining. At the beginning of 2020, lockdowns worldwide had begun leading to a huge shift to a digital world. At this time, Singapore saw an increase of 300% in these attacks. One of the main reasons was the high processing computing Internet framework that the country holds. In 2019, global statistics stated that cybercriminals made nearly 53 million crypto attacks on unsuspecting victims.
In other previous instances, Coinhive, a legal crypto miner, embedded a script in the Los Angeles Times’ Homicide report page with the purpose of mining Monero. As is typical in a cryptojacking attack, the victims were unaware of the attacks, so the issue was detected after some time.
Coinhive shut down in early 2019. In 2017, these attacks had increased by an astounding 8500% because of the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, with the worst affected country being the United States. The future of cryptojacking highly depends on the development of endpoint security. Therefore, it remains essential for companies to continue investing in next-generation security systems.