Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and most well-known cryptocurrency, is up more than 70% from this year’s low of $27,734 on January 4. The price rally of Bitcoin has also pulled up the value of other popular cryptocurrencies like Ethereum ($ETH), Binance Coin ($BNB), Ripple ($XRP), and Monero ($XMR).
The exponential growth of the cryptocurrency market has attracted not just legitimate investors, but has also presented an option for threat actors to generate revenue through cryptojacking.
What is cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking involves the installation of malware on a device from a malicious source in order to hijack computing power to secretly mine cryptocurrencies (often Monero $XMR), without the user’s knowledge or consent.
This usually happens when a victim clicks on an unknown link in an email or visits a compromised website containing a malicious script. These scripts provide cybercriminals the authority to access the victim’s computer and other devices connected to the Internet. Some mining programs unwittingly load in the background without any prompt or notification, leaving the victim unaware that their computer now has coin miners installed which are generating cryptocurrency.
Early cryptojacking attempts largely targeted PCs and mobile devices running browsers via the cryptomining software from Coinhive. Coinhive developed this software ostensibly for on-the-level web companies to better monetize their sites, but criminals soon capitalized on it for illicit purposes. A cat-and-mouse game soon followed, as antivirus vendors listed Coinhive as malware, which then drove innovation in cryptojacking software that would go on to defeat anti-malware tools.
Why cryptojacking is a concern
Cryptojacking is now the most popular and prevalent cyberthreat, displacing ransomware attacks. The primary impact of cryptojacking is on a computer’s performance as it consumes processor cycles leaving the machine running abnormally slow. It also increases the cost of your electricity bill because cryptocurrency mining requires a large amount of computing power, and attackers run it continuously so they can earn more.
Although the effects of cryptojacking may seem harmless, users should still be wary. Any cyberthreat that uses your computer’s resources should be a concern because it affects your business and productivity.
Signs you could be a victim of cryptojacking
Cryptojacking can be hard to detect, but here are a few signs that your machine may be infected:
- A noticeable slowdown in device performance
- An overheating battery
- Restarting or shutting down due to a lack of available processing power
- Unexpected increases in electricity costs
Because cryptojacking attacks use very similar techniques to conventional types of cybercrimes, the methods to protect against them should already be very familiar to you.
Here are some tips to detect and prevent cryptojacking:
1. Continuously monitor resources on your computer such as processing speed and power usage. Installing a performance monitoring app that visualizes the CPU, network, and memory usage of your computer will be very beneficial. Use Trend Micro Cleaner One Pro to help you monitor your computer’s performance.
2. Install the latest software updates and patches for your operating system and all applications, especially those that address known web browser vulnerabilities and exploits.
3. Install an antivirus app that blocks web threats and malicious ads – which are a common source of embedded cryptojacking scripts. Look for a trusted one that provides defense against online dangers including coin mining software. Use Trend Micro Maximum Security to provide smart protection for all your devices.
Click the button below to give it a try:
It’s a serious concern
The consequences of a cryptojacking attack may be limited to decreased performance, but don’t get too complacent. Cybercriminals looking to find a way to maintain a steady profit are turning into cryptojacking. This is a wake-up call to step up the security of your devices.