Cryptojacking might sound like a term from the next episode of the Star Wars franchise, but it’s actually one of the more insidious ways that hackers and cybercriminals are making money at the expense of private citizens and business employees who aren’t aware their machines have been compromised.
Cryptojacking is a product of the cryptocurrency craze that has people all over the world buying and selling virtual currency. It’s an attractive way to invest your money, because most countries’ governments don’t really know how to classify it yet, meaning you don’t have to pay taxes on it, and it’s not regulated by any one government body.
Those advantages can also be used against people, however. Part of the attraction of cryptocurrency is that all transactions are recorded in a public ledger known as a blockchain. People know as miners create signatures for the blockchain to ensure that it is verified and factual. The first miner to complete this task if awarded newly-created cryptocurrency. Performing that task takes up a lot of processing power, which is the impetus for cryptojacking.
In order to have more processing power on hand to win that free cryptocurrency, hackers use illegal tactics to gain control of other people’s resources and set them to work on crypto mining. It is easily recognizable if you know what you’re looking for, as your own resources will get tied up without any noticeable activity. Overall functionality is hurt. For plug-in devices, heat signatures will rise. For mobile devices, battery drain will increase significantly. Cryptojacking was the hacker’s choice in 2018. It rose in usage by 450% over the four quarters of the year. It gets its start by infecting a computer through malware attacks or browser-based injections. Hackers are perfectly find seizing control of individuals’ computers, but are even more pleased when they infect an entire method. Not only does this give access to multiple computers, but since the attack is spread out, it’s less likely to be detected.
Protection Against Cryptojacking
If you do not have an antimalware system in place on every Internet-capable device, you’re inviting hackers and cybercriminals into your life to make it miserable, including slaving your systems to perform cryptojacking. The best thing an antimalware system can do is inform you when sneaky software is trying to slide into your system and install itself. The warning system will alert you that new software is attempting to install and give you choice to accept, deny, or quarantine it.
Keeping yourself safe is more than that, however. Watch out what you download and install on your computer, especially if you are going outside the bounds of the typical iPhone or Google app stores. Even if these apps are legitimate, they often contain riders – other softwares that have been injected into them or bribed those companies’ distributors to sneak them onboard.
That goes double for any suspicious emails. If you don’t recognize the sender, send it on to the recycling bin. If it is from a familiar source, but has a file attached, contact the sender and ask if the attachment is legitimate before you decide to open it.