We live in the digital era, where people do more transactions online than ever before. To get benefits from security breaches, hackers have developed various ingenious methods over the years. Their cause of efforts is stealing valuable data, like personal information, email phishing (malicious link in an email) scams, or financial information. An example is Ransomware malware that encrypts a victim’s computing power. It has gained headlines on several occasions, like recently distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
- 1. What is Cryptojacking?
- 2. What is Crypto Mining? Computing power
- 3. The Start of Cryptojacking
- 4. The Rise in Cryptojacking
- 5. How Cryptojacking Scripts Spread?
- 6. How Does Cryptojacking Work?
- 7. How to Detect Cryptojacking?
- 8. New Cryptojacking Trends
- 9. How to Prevent Cryptojacking: Tips and Tactics
- 10. FAQs
Hackers often send malicious code to theft or transmit information or financial gain, but this approach sometimes hit or miss. Yet to overcome this uncertainty, some hackers have found a way to use this type of malware or Cryptomining code for immediate financial gains. This strategy is called Cryptojacking.
Let’s know exactly what it is.
What is Cryptojacking?
It is a type of cyberattack in which a hacker practices to power a victim’s computer to produce cryptocurrency. That usually happens when the victim unwittingly installs a malicious programmed script. As a result, it gives access to cybercriminals to use victim’s details. During this process, the infected computer will slow down, and hackers can use the information to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Moreover, the program used in Cryptojacking called ‘coin miners’ to create or mine cryptocurrencies. This type of mined cryptocurrencies on a computer is called Monero.
- Individual consumers, large organizations, and industrial control systems can be a victim of Cryptojacking.
- The lines amongst the “legitimate” practice of browser mining and Cryptojacking are not always explicit.
Before moving forward, let us know the important term Cryptocurrency Mining:
What is Crypto Mining? Computing power
The method used to validate transactions to add them into a blockchain ledger is called Crypto mining. Cryptocurrencies have controlled by a blockchain ledger with decentralization or distributed currencies. This ledger can not break down without any advanced computing power as it is protected by complex cryptography.
Here are cryptocurrency miners who come into the picture. By validating transactions to updating the blockchain, all processes are controlled by crypto miners. All the miners play against the other one to solve tricky cryptographic equations by using computing power. Whoever solves the code first can get rewarded with their cryptocurrency.
You must be curious to know how Cryptojacking has taken place in the Cryptocurrency world. Let’s know with a quick glimpse:
The Start of Cryptojacking
In 2017 Cryptojacking first came into the limelight when Bitcoin was on a pick. The Coinhive organization has published the Cryptojacking scripts. In 2019, the code shut down later on, as website owners use that code as an alternative to displaying ads on their site. So, the fact is the code is designated as a mining tool for passive income. Before Cybercriminals realize, they utilized the code by embedding their Cryptomining scripts. As a result, they were able to use the website visitors’ computer resources.
The Rise in Cryptojacking
Bitcoin Cryptocurrency was announced in 2009. In 2010 the 1st cryptocurrency exchange appeared. After this, from 2011, the Rival currencies start to rise, and unfortunately, the Mt. Gox currency exchange gets hacked. The stolen BTC from Mt. Gox is calculated as 850,000. Until 2019, the Bitcoin value fluctuated with falls and rise. But now the Cryptocurrencies are at their peak point.
Since now, Cryptojacking has become the most rising severe problem in the world. Gaining unauthorized entry to computer systems at minimal risk and efforts is creating stress amongst crypto traders and crypto miners. As the hackers have to embed the Cryptojacking malware and activate Cryptomining scripts to get easy user clicks.
Moving forward, it is the correct time to discover methods behind Cryptojacking Scripts Spread.
How Cryptojacking Scripts Spread?
Cryptojackers use mainly 3 methods to maliciously mine cryptocurrencies.
- Hijacking IT infrastructure
- Execute Cryptomining scripts by downloading malware
- Accessing cloud services
Making headway, let us focus on types of Cryptojacking:
In the Cryptojacking to spreads, a Cryptomining script malware gets downloaded and runs an executable file within IT infrastructure.
Another most famous way used during Crypto-jacking is malicious emails. Attackers send fake legitimate links or attachments in the email. When the user clicks on it, the code starts to execute, and without the user’s knowledge, the script runs in the background.
Web Browser-Based Cryptojacking
Browser-Based Crypto-jacking can directly exert within web browsers to mine for cryptocurrency using IT infrastructure.
Hackers develop a Cryptomining script with the use of programming language. They embed the malicious script into ads, out-of-date WordPress plugins inside various websites that run automatically, and the code gets downloaded into the user’s computer.
Hackers search organization’s code and file to access their cloud services through API keys. After getting access, hackers use extensive CPU resources for Cryptomining. For having a tremendous financial rise in the account, hackers use this technique.
How Does Cryptojacking Work?
Embed Script by Compromising an Asset
Threat actors (Cyber hackers) embed the Cryptojacking scripts or Cryptomining scripts to endanger an asset using one of the 3 methods.
Execute Cryptomining Script
As we have discussed, Cryptojackers execute the Crypto mining scripts by running them on browsers, websites, or share malicious link/attachment with infected Ads. Once the Cryptojacking scripts or Cryptomining scripts get embedded, hackers wait for victims to click on them.
Cryptomining Launch into
Once the user clicks on the script, it gets executed and runs in the background without the knowledge of the user.
Cryptojacking script uses computer power to resolve critical algorithms to mine cryptocurrency called a “block”. Now, these blocks get added to blockchain technology that collects the digital information about cryptocurrency.
Cryptojackers Receive a Cryptocurrency Reward
Every time, when Jackers adds a new block into the blockchain, they get rewarded with cryptocurrency coins. So you see, without any risk or hard work, threat actors can earn cryptocurrency. Moreover, they can anonymously add this reward into their digital wallets.
How to Detect Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking can influence your complete business operation. It is quite difficult to detect which of your systems have been compromised. You and your IT team must be expert observant as the code in Cryptomining scripts can undoubtedly avoid detection.
But, some signs could help you to detect Cryptojacking before it’s too late.
Signs you could be a victim of Cryptojacking
- A remarkable slowdown in the performance of a device
- The device shut down due to a lack of processing power
- Overheating of batteries on devices
- Consistent decrease in productivity of your device or router
- Sudden increases in electricity costs
Let us get into some of the main signs in detail:
Decrease In Performance
One can find decreased performance in their computing devices, like desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. That is one of the top signs of Crypto Jacking that slow down your systems. Som you must have to educate your employees about this term and ask them to report at the initial stage.
The resource-intensive method of Crypto-jacking can produce computing devices to overheat. Due to this process, your devices can get damaged, or their lifespan may shorten.
Check CPU Usage
Check your personal computers or ask your IT team to monitor the CPU usage while using a website with little or no media content. If you find your CPU usages increased excessively from Activity Monitor or Task Manager, then Cryptomining scripts may be running on your device.
Cybercriminals regularly target websites to embed crypto-mining code. So you must have to visit your website at a specific time interval to detect changes on webpages or files on the web servers. Early detection can help you to prevent your device from being targeted.
New Cryptojacking Trends
Cybercriminals constantly alter code and come up with new techniques to embed updated scripts onto your computer system. Keeping your knowledge updated can help you to be on the top of your network to detect Cryptojacking.
Authentic crypto-news sources include:
- TodayOnChain: TodayOnChain presents up-to-date information about crypto-news that help us to know various types of cryptocurrencies and protection risks.
- CoinCasso: CoinCasso is the growing platform for Cryptocurrency exchange. It offers an Affiliate program, Ambassador program, Organization of competitions, and latest crypto news.
- CryptoSlate: CryptoSlate offers daily news updates with articles related to cryptocurrency and blockchain.
How to Prevent Cryptojacking: Tips and Tactics
Crypotojacking Prevention tips:
- Continuously monitor processing speed, power usage of resources on your computer
- Use coin mining blocker extensions for browsers
- Use more privacy-focused ad blockers
- Install the software/applications with the latest updates for your operating system
- Block pages that are perceived to deliver Cryptojacking scripts
Let’s look into Tactics:
It may be difficult to identify, the device is compromised by Cryptojackers or not. But it is possible to take care of some aspects:
Train Your IT Team
Educate your IT team about Cryptojacking. Provide them proper understanding, detection, and prevention of it. As result, they can predict the first signs of an attack and take prompt steps to examine further.
Use Anti-Cryptomining Extensions
Usually, Cryptojacking scripts are used in web browsers. So it is beneficial to use browser extensions, like minerBlock, No Coin, and Anti Miner to block Cryptominers across the web.
Use Ad-Blockers (block malicious cryptomining code)
As we know, Cryptojacking scripts can be embedded into web ads. Utilizing an ad-blocker can identify and block malicious Cryptomining code.
Important facts and statistics about Cryptojacking
- There are nearly 50,000 sites secretly affected by crypto-jacking scripts in March 2018.
- The most popular Cryptojacking script practiced by Cryptojackers is Coinhive.
- Crypto-jacking is a highly growing and popular alternative to ransomware, due to it requiring less technical skills and an efficient way to make money.
- Cryptojacking can run on Windows, Mac, and Android. So, it is called platform-independent.
- Almost all Cryptojackers choose to mine the digital currency named Monero because it is more anonymous than Bitcoin
How long does it take to mine 1 Bitcoin?
Despite the figure of miners, it will take 10 minutes to mine one Bitcoin. According to research, to mine a Bitcoin will require 600 seconds (10 minutes), or 72,000 GW (or 72 Terawatts) using the average power usage granted by ASIC miners.
What is the cost to mine 1 Bitcoin?
Bitcoin has considered the most expensive cryptocurrency to mine, stated by Crescent Electric. If we find an average mining cost, then it will be $4,161 per bitcoin.
Is cryptocurrency mining illegal?
As per your geographic location, one can decide the legitimacy of Bitcoin mining. Because of Bitcoin, fiat currencies and the government control over the financial market can be in danger. So, in certain places, Bitcoin is illegal.
Is Cryptocurrency mining legal in the USA?
As we have discussed, the Cryptocurrency mining process has been used to verify blockchain transactions over the network by using computing power. In return, miners will earn cryptocurrency for providing that service. So, at the time of this writing this guide, there are no such laws prohibiting cryptocurrency mining in the United States.