Cryptojacking – Everything you Need to Know

Cyberattacks are a common occurrence over the internet and the cryptocurrency market is one of the leading targets of cybercriminals. One of the latest forms of cyberattacks that can be seen in the crypto space is known as cryptojacking, where the processing power of an individual’s system is used by hackers for mining cryptocurrency for their personal gain and use. It can also be defined as the unauthorized use of tablets, a computing system, and smartphones for mining crypto assets like Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, and more. 

Cryptojacking occurs when hackers use the systems of their victim for performing all the necessary updates required for a blockchain, which enables them to mine new tokens. These new tokens i.e. profits are taken by the hacker, while the victim is left to deal with the cost of mining, the high cost of electricity consumed by the system, and the possible wear and tear it suffers. 

In order to understand the concept of cryptojacking, you first need to have a complete understanding of crypto mining. Everyone is aware that the central government of a country is responsible for printing and distributing physical money, but where do cryptocurrencies come from? As there is no central authority involved, these assets are created via a process known as mining. It is a costly, detailed, and rewarding process that adds transaction records to a public ledger referred to as the blockchain. A set of specialized computers are used for crypto mining because they boast a high hash rate.

Having a higher hash rate significantly boosts your chances of solving mathematical problems for creating new units of a cryptocurrency. People who are part of this process are known as miners and they confirm legitimate transactions and receive a reward in the form of the asset by doing so. They need to have a lot of computing power in order to be able to do that and this can prove to be costly. Therefore, some people turn to cryptojacking to mine the coins without having to incur the cost. 

A hacker can use several ways for infiltrating a computer system. Malware has become one of the most common ways, where a targeted victim clicks on a malicious link unknowingly in their email or on a website. This will unload a crypto mining code on the system and once it is launched, the hacker will start working round the clock for mining crypto assets through the system. The victim remains oblivious to the mining activity that’s being perpetrated by the cybercriminal via their system. This type of attack infects the device and is also known as a local attack. 

There is also the drive-by method that’s used for cryptojacking. This is when malicious threats are embedded into a webpage’s JavaScript code. Thus, any user who visits the webpage in question will have their device mining cryptocurrency unknowingly for these hackers. There are some websites that are quite open about how they might use your device for mining cryptocurrencies. They consider it a fair transaction, as they are giving you access to free content and using your device for mining cryptocurrencies in exchange. 

Gaming websites have begun to use this tactic because they are well-aware that users may spend a significant amount of time on their website. It will use the PC, mobile phone or laptop of the player to mine cryptocurrencies, while they are busy playing games on the website. However, as soon as the player exits the website and closes the tab, their device can no longer be used. But, loopholes have been found and sometimes, the websites continue to use the system, even when the user has closed the tab or exited the website. 

Detecting and Preventing Cryptojacking 

It is a given that no one would want to be taken advantage of, which means you want to detect and prevent cryptojacking, but this is nothing less than a Herculean task. It is considered impossible to spot because it is either presented as an essential activity for the device in question or is hidden. Unsuspecting users are often known for falling for this gimmick. But, there are some red flags that can alert you to a possible cryptojacking and these include:

  • You may feel that your device is beginning to feel hotter than usual. 
  • Your device fan may start running faster than usual in order to prevent it from heating up. Ordinarily, a cryptojacking script often makes a device work overtime and in order to keep up with this new load, the fan will have to step up to ensure there is no danger.
  • You will also notice that the device’s performance is suffering and it will not be able to operate at its optimal level, even though you haven’t used it for any such activity. 

Some of the other indications of cryptojacking also include the battery of the device draining quicker than usual or a very high electricity bill. If you want to prevent these attacks, there are a few tips that can prove to be helpful and they are:

  • You can start using browser extensions that can be helpful in blocking cryptojacking scripts that can be found on various websites. 
  • In most cases, advertising websites are used by cybercriminals for embedding cryptojacking scripts on your device, so you can block them completely. 
  • If you want to stay safe from the drive-by method, you can disable JavaScripts when you access the internet. This would help you in protecting your device from an attack via this method of cryptojacking.

In recent times, cryptojacking has become quite widespread, as these cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated than ever in their attacks against unsuspecting victims. There have been a number of such incidents that have happened recently. You need to learn everything possible about this criminal activity and take the necessary precautions if you don’t want to be a victim. Otherwise, you will end up having to deal with a high electricity bill and the performance of your device will also suffer in the long-run, leading to additional problems for you. 

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