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What is Cryptojacking and How to Prevent it?

  • Ayush Singh Rawat
  • Oct 26, 2021
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Introduction

 

In September 2017, crypto-jacking made headlines for the first time. Around the same time, Bitcoin was reaching new highs. Crypto-jacking first surfaced in the latter months of 2017, when bitcoin was at an all-time high. 

 

Coin Hive was the first known crypto-jacking service, consisting of a series of JavaScript files that provided website owners with a new and creative approach to generate money from their existing and new users. Coinhive may mine cryptocurrency for the site's owner using the computing resources of users and visitors.

 

The hackers would take advantage of flaws in a select specific websites to drain the resources of users' devices invisibly. They'd also mine cryptocurrency and store it in their own wallets. 

 

Coinhive's services were completely shut down in March 2019, however lesser copies of their software are still in use. Cryptojacking is now more common than the previously most feared cyber attack technique, ransomware assaults, according to a recent Forbes article.(Here)

 

(Must check: What is the Future of Cryptocurrency?)

 

Cryptocurrency: an overview

 

Cryptojacking is a kind of cybercrime in which hackers exploit people's gadgets (computers, cellphones, tablets, and even servers) to mine for bitcoin without their permission. 

 

The objective is profit, like with many types of cybercrime, but unlike other threats, it is meant to remain entirely concealed from the victim.

 

Hackers may take over a computer's resources with just a few lines of code, leaving unwary users with slower computer response times, higher CPU consumption, overheated computer equipment, and higher power costs. 

 

Hackers use these tools to steal cryptocurrencies from other digital wallets and to enlist the help of hijacked machines to mine precious coins.

 

It's possible that you won't realise if you've been a victim of cryptojacking. The majority of cryptojacking software is meant to remain invisible to the user, but that doesn't mean it isn't having an impact. This unauthorised use of your computing resources slows down other operations, raises your power costs, and reduces the device's lifespan. 

 

(Also read: Centralized and Decentralized Cryptocurrency Exchanges)

 

You may detect specific warning flags depending on how subtle the attack is. You may have grounds to suspect cryptojacking if your PC or Mac slows down or uses its cooling fan more than usual.

 

The incentive for cryptojacking is straightforward: money. Mining cryptocurrency may be highly profitable, but without the resources to pay huge expenditures, it is currently nearly difficult to make a profit. Cryptojacking is an effective and affordable technique to mine precious cryptocurrencies for someone with low means and dubious morality.

 

(Related blog: Digital Currency and Cryptocurrency: Types and Benefits)

 

Working of Cryptojacking

 

With cryptocurrencies' growing popularity and acceptability as a legal means to trade online and buy products, it was only a matter of time until this form of online money was abused.

 

Hacking into company and/or personal computers, laptops, and mobile devices to install or infect them with software to perform their bidding is also known as cryptojacking. 

 

The malware mines for cryptocurrency or steals the digital wallets of unwary users by utilising a computer's processing power and resources. With the exception of a few small red flags, the code is simple to deploy, operates in the background, and is tough to detect.

 

  1. File based

 

Traditional malware tactics, such as a link or attachment in an email, are one of the major ways cryptojackers hijack machines. When a link is clicked or an attachment is opened, the device is infected with cryptomining malware, and the cryptojacker begins mining bitcoin around the clock while remaining undetected in the background.

 

  1. Browser based attack

 

Drive-by cryptomining, a browser-based attack, is an alternative crypto mining method. The method includes inserting a bit of JavaScript code onto a web page, similar to malicious advertising vulnerabilities. 

 

The code initiates and executes bitcoin mining on any user devices that view the web page if the page is accessed. Although nothing is saved on the device, mining will continue as long as the browser is open.

 

Such worms may also alter their scripts to operate on other computer architectures, such as x86, x86-64, and aarch64, according to AT&T security researchers. Hackers cycle through several programmes until one of them works. A cron job then guarantees that the script remains persistent on a device or kills it if it is discovered.

 

Cryptomining scripts can also check if a device has been cryptojacked by other cryptomining malware. It can deactivate other scripts if it discovers them and execute its own instead.

 

  1. Cloud based

 

Cloud cryptojacking is a last option for crytojackers to obtain cryptocurrency. This type of crytojacking entails seizing cloud resources in order to mine bitcoin. 

 

Hackers that employ cloud cryptojacking scour an organization's files and code for API keys to get access to its cloud services. 

 

Hackers may drain infinite CPU resources for crypto mining if they obtain access. It's the fastest-growing cybersecurity threat to businesses right now, and hackers may use this approach to drastically speed up their cryptojacking attempts to illegally mine for cash.

 

(Suggested blog: Most stable cryptocurrencies)

 

 

How to prevent Cryptojacking?

 

Follow these steps to minimize the risk of your organization falling prey to cryptojacking:

 

  1. Keep up with latest trends

 

Cryptojacking is the newest type of cyberattack in town, and it's worth reading about regardless of your expertise with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. The more you learn about it, the greater your chances of safeguarding your smart devices and the sensitive data stored on them become. Here are some reputable websites to visit:

 

  • Coindesk: a prominent industry website that provides up-to-date knowledge on all aspects of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

  • CryptoSlate: a news website where you can read trend articles and find out about the latest industry news.

  • Cointelegraph: This website is a veteran in the field of blockchain news, and it regularly provides helpful information on cryptocurrencies and other technology.


    The image is showing the necessary steps to prevent cryptojacking.

Steps to prevent Crytojacking


  1. Install an ad-blocking or anti-crypto mining extension-

 

As cryptojacking scripts are frequently sent via online advertisements, using an ad blocker to prevent them is a good idea. Cryptomining scripts can be detected by various ad blockers, such as Ad Blocker Plus. Extensions like No Coin and MinerBlock, which are meant to identify and stop crypto mining scripts, are recommended by Laliberte.(Here)

 

  1. Use endpoint protection- 

 

Crypto miner detection has been integrated to the products of several endpoint protection/antivirus software companies.

"Antivirus software is one of the best things to have on your endpoints if you want to defend yourself from cryptomining. 

There's a significant possibility it'll be detected if it's known "Farrell agrees. Just keep in mind that crypto minor writers are always altering their approaches to evade detection at the endpoint, he says.

 

  1. Perform regular malware & spyware scans

 

Now that you know what cryptojacking malware is, set aside some time to check your devices for malware and spyware on a regular basis. To be safe, do it at least once a month, and consider investing in a software solution with a proven track record.

 

  1. Disable JavaScript

 

When visiting the web, deactivating JavaScript can protect your machine against cryptojacking malware. However, although this prevents drive-by cryptojacking, it may also prevent you from accessing functionalities that you require.

 

(Recommended blog: A Simple Guide to Ripple Cryptocurrency)

 

 

Conclusion

 

Cryptojacking may appear to be a relatively innocuous crime because the only thing ‘stolen' is the victim's computer's electricity. 

 

However, the use of computer resources for this unlawful purpose is done without the victim's knowledge or agreement, for the advantage of criminals who are producing cash illegally. 

 

To reduce the dangers, we recommend that you adopt proper cybersecurity practises and install trustworthy cybersecurity or intranet security on all of your devices.

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