What is cryptojacking

In addition, cryptojacking remains popular with criminals because it means more money for less risk, perhaps giving it an edge over ransomware. While ransomware is designed to encrypt your valuable data in return for payment of an unlock code, cryptojacking leaves those assets as the motive is to profit through secretly mining cryptocurrency. The primary reason for this is CPU-friendliness – while Bitcoin’s mining algorithm requires a specialised ASIC setup and significant computing power, Monero can be mined using any computer or smartphone.

As such, the best way to prevent cryptojacking is to protect against malware and malicious scripts. That’s easy to do with a cybersecurity solution that detects and blocks threats from the source. One that prevents users from accessing malicious bitcoin trading sites and webpages is best, too. While ransomware attacks like WannaCry, Fox and Ryuk hijack your data and demand payments to release it, cryptojacking covertly harvests your hardware’s processing power to create valuable cryptocurrency.

While there is no definitive way to gauge how much cryptocurrency is mined by hackers through cryptojacking, Securus has found that the practice is common and shows no signs of slowing down. For the second method, the hacker injects a script into an ad or downloadable tool and then delivers it to multiple websites. Once victims either visit the website to download a ‘free’ tool or receives an infected pop-up ad in their browsers, the script executes automatically. There’s also a Chrome extension called No Coin, created by developer Rafael Keramidas, that blocks Coinhive mining and is adding protection against other miners, too. Cryptojacking is the secret use of your computing device to mine cryptocurrency.

Known Cryptojacking Threats

The owner of this site is using Wordfence to manage access to their site. In the case of Bitcoin, mining requires specialised hardware and consumes masses of energy. For example, each Bitcoin transaction takes enough energy to boil around 36,000 kettles filled with water. In a year, the whole Bitcoin mining network consumes more energy than Ireland. Cryptojacking was once only possible through viruses and malware, but it has evolved to the point where modern cryptojacking can occur right through a user’s internet browser.

  • On April 4, 2018, an unknown hacker attacked the Verge cryptocurrency platform.
  • Promptly installing patches and software updates is another action that will ensure endpoints and cloud-based tools have their security gaps filled, protecting them from the latest threats.
  • However, increased wear and tear on hardware can carry long-term consequences, especially in a business setting.
  • The problem for them is that mining cryptocurrency can be a time-consuming and expensive activity.
  • Alicia can make her bitcoin purchase using her wallet’s private key to record a transaction in the lodger .
  • Be sure to install an anti-spam/anti-malware/anti-virus plugin to protect and monitor your organisation’s websites.
  • And a coin-mining worm spread among Amazon Fire TV devices that had been modified to stream pirated content.

Unlike with other crypto mining services, Coinhive’s customers only needed to place a few lines of JavaScript into their web pages so as to enlist their visitors’ CPU power to mine cryptocurrency directly in-browser. The obvious reason behind cryptojacking’s gaining popularity is that the hackers are able to earn more money at minimum risk. Hackers can mine cryptocurrency from all the devices that have been infected, whereas, in case of ransomware hackers need to make payment to the people involved in infecting the devices.


Your security training should include building awareness of what attacks look like, and particularly signs that an attacker might be trying to load malicious code. But probably the most effective way to detect and protect against cryptojacking is network monitoring. Such solutions enable observation of your network as a whole, so it is possible to identify suspicious spikes in network traffic and discover which devices are affected. TMB’s own Network Management Service, for example, enables us to instantly produce an informative, accurate map of our customers’ networks, and problematic network traffic can be automatically flagged.

Is Cryptojacking a virus?

Cryptojacking is a form of malware that hides on your device and steals its computing resources in order to mine for valuable online currencies like Bitcoin.

The difficulty in mining a cryptocurrency is also what makes it gain in terms of its value. It requires the user to solve encrypted equations in Maths and complex problems to get a cryptocurrency piece. Here is how you can protect your bitcoin automated trading from Cryptojacking. However, before that, here is a little background about cryptocurrencies. On an infected Android mobile device, we found that it drained the battery 104% faster compared to a phone in an idle state. Plus, the malware almost halved the PC’s battery life, down from 4 hours 40 minutes on a clean system to just two hours 27 minutes on an infected PC.

Cryptojacking: Could Your Pc Be Mining Bitcoin?

Each bitcoin is basically a computer file which is stored in a digital wallet. All bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public database, called the blockchain. Well, cryptojacking was big business for cybercriminals in 2017 and 2018. As long as cryptocurrencies have value, criminals will use computers to steal them – and your systems could be a target. Detecting cryptojacking can be difficult, especially if only a few systems are compromised. Sometimes the first indication is an increase in helpdesk complaints about slow computer performance.

These miners earn a small commission for every transaction made on their own hardware running secure crypto mining software. The one that first gained notoriety was using website scripts to passively harvest the processing power of site visitors’ systems. The websites that used this tactic aimed to replace advertising revenue with cryptomining, but they rarely asked for user permission . The computer processing power, system cooling and electricity required to successfully mine can be very expensive. That’s why cybercriminals have turned to using relatively cheap mining software to harness the power of systems they don’t actually own.

Another common place where crypto mining scripts are embedded is within web ads. Thus, running ad blockers can protect your devices by detecting and blocking malicious crypto mining code and other threats. The first is to trick What is cryptojacking a user into loading crypto mining software onto their computer, as with the recent BadShell attack – a “file-less” malware that did not require a download. The techniques used to do this resemble those used in phishing attacks.

If Your Business Isnt Accepting Cryptocurrency, Its Probably Only A Matter Of Time

Device infection follows the same paths as traditional malware infection. Malicious Coinhive users modify the code so that 100 percent of the take goes to their own Monero wallets. These snippets of altered code get put into websites without the operators’ knowledge, or are loaded into online ads over which websites have next to no control. In November 2017, nearly 2,500 websites ran Coinhive, But by June 2018, the antivirus company McAfee said that number had risen to 30,000 sites — not all of whose administrators were aware of the program’s presence. Cryptojacking has replaced encrypting ransomware as the cybercriminal weapon of choice. Cryptojacking is resource-intensive, and the process often causes computing devices to overheat.

What is cryptojacking

An illicit cryptominer is potentially unwanted or malicious code designed to hijack the idle processing power of a targeted device and misuse it to mine cryptocurrency. The mining activity is usually hidden or runs in the background without obtaining consent from the user or admin. In February, the critical infrastructure security firm Radiflow announced that it had discovered cryptocurrency mining malware in the operational technology network of a water utility in Europe.

A Short Definition Of Cryptojacking

Furthermore, Monero obfuscates its transactions and anonymises wallet addresses, making it even harder to track than other cryptocurrencies. Botnet operators are increasingly incorporating cryptojacking into their existing arsenals and targeting both cloud and on-premise servers to extend computing power and maximise revenues. Smartphones are also being targeted, for example by the Android worm ADB Miner. Apple recently went as far as banning cryptomining apps on iOS to prevent attackers from taking advantage. Traditional cyber security measures often focus on preventing data loss and damage but this approach can ignore an increasingly prevalent threat that does not seek to achieve either of these goals – cryptojacking.

What is cryptojacking

Botnets are essentially computer systems that have been hijacked by malicious actors, which are then used to carry out attacks against third parties, most commonly in the form of denial of service attacks. But Bitcoin is not the only show in town and there are many competing cryptocurrences. One of the most successful is Monero, which builds a degree of privacy into transactions (something Bitcoin doesn’t do). Currently it requires no specialised hardware for mining, so anyone with computing power to spare can mine it. WatchDog is mainly programmed in the Go language, which enables its use across different operating systems.

How To Detect Cryptojacking

So, it’s much easier for Mallory to mine on other peoples’ devices — leaving them to pay the electricity bill. Plus, due to its anonymous nature, cryptojackers can be difficult to track down. Relying on the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency to bask in her riches. Alicia can make her bitcoin purchase using her wallet’s private key to record a transaction in the lodger . The ledger shows how much she paid, and who she paid — using Bob’s public key to identify Bob.

A common method, for instance, is to send users a legitimate-looking email encouraging them to click a link. If a user does so, a crypto mining script is loaded onto their computer, and runs silently in the background whenever that machine is on. In particular, this year, cloud cryptojacking malware has become one of the biggest bitcoin trading threats to organisations. This malware sees cybercriminals regularly stealing processing power from devices and other resources in order to mine cryptocurrency. It’s possible that cryptojacking attacks are rising alongside the worth of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin (although, bitcoin’s worth does tend to crash a lot too).

The sneaky malware has been written to stop working and hide itself as soon as this application is open. You buy a unit or fraction of a unit of the currency, called a ‘coin’, and store it in a digital ‘wallet’. Despite the complexity of the field, and the extent of the potential danger, cryptojacking is surprisingly easy to prevent. Why are these next-gen hackers going to such extreme length to snag the use of your CPU or GPU? They want to make you mine – using the word ‘mine’ in the verbal form of the word, not the possessive.

From there, we can investigate further to determine the cause of the issue. Put simply, cryptojacking is the act of hijacking computer processing power to mine cryptocurrency. The most well-known of these is Bitcoin, but there are many more, and hackers are eager to get their hands on them. A similar risk that businesses face is when their computer resources are used as part of what is known as a botnet.

These attacks target sites with multiple concurrent users and long average session durations, including image boards and streaming sites, to keep malicious scripts running for as long as possible. The more malicious method is deploying a form of malware that can end up on any PC, mobile smartphone, business server or Internet of Things device. Using traditional malware and phishing tactics, hackers stealthily inject a cryptojacking script into your system when you click a malicious link or download a bad email attachment. Much like the website method, the malware then begins hijacking system processes for the purpose of mining. Solving these mathematical calculations, however, requires a massive amount of processing power and will exhaust the resources of most computers that attempt them. Instead of using their own device, a malicious actor will therefore steal the processing power of other people’s systems by covertly installing the cryptomining software and syphoning off any earnings.

Author: Vlad Hatze