What is Cryptojacking and How to Prevent it?


Cryptojacking initially gained attention in September 2017. At the same time, Bitcoin prices were increasing. When bitcoin reached an all-time high in the latter months of 2017, the first instances of cryptocurrency theft appeared. The first known cryptojacking service was called Coin Hive, made up of many JavaScript files. It offered website owners a fresh and inventive way to make money from their current and potential new visitors. Using the computer power of users and visitors, Coinhive may generate cryptocurrency for the site’s owner.

The hackers would utilise vulnerabilities in a few chosen websites to stealthily drain the devices’ resources. In addition, they would mine cryptocurrencies and keep them in their wallets.

Although all of Coinhive’s services were discontinued in March 2019, several versions of their software are still in use. According to a recent Forbes article, cryptojacking has surpassed ransomware attacks as the most prevalent and feared cyber attack method.

Working of Cryptojacking

It was just a matter of time before this type of online money was misused, given cryptocurrencies’ rising popularity and acceptance as a legitimate way to transact online and buy goods. Cryptojacking is breaking into computers, laptops, and mobile devices owned by businesses or individuals to instal or infect them with software that will do their bidding.

Using a computer’s resources and computing capacity, the malware takes the digital wallets of unsuspecting users or mines bitcoin. With a few minor exceptions, the code is easy to deploy, runs in the background, and is difficult to see.

1.    File Based

One of the main ways that cryptojackers take over computers is through conventional malware techniques, including a link or attachment in an email. When a link is clicked, or an attachment is opened, cryptomining software is installed on the device, and the cryptojacker starts secretly mining bitcoin all the time.

2.    Browser-Based Attack

Another crypto mining technique is drive-by cryptomining, a browser-based attack. The technique entails injecting some JavaScript code onto a web page, much like malicious advertising flaws. If the page is browsed, the code starts and runs bitcoin mining on any user devices that see the website. Mining will continue as long as the browser is open, even when nothing is saved on the device.

According to AT&T security researchers, such worms may modify their scripts to run on different computer architectures, such as x86, x86-64, and aarch64. Hackers switch between numerous programmes until one of them is successful. The script is then either kept on a device permanently by a cron job or is terminated if it is found.

3.    Cloud Based

Crytojackers’ last resort for obtaining cryptocurrency is cloud cryptojacking. This kind of cryptocurrency theft involves taking control of cloud resources to mine bitcoin. To gain access to a company’s cloud services, hackers that use cloud cryptojacking search through its files and source code for API keys.

Hackers could use all available CPU resources to mine cryptocurrencies if they gain access. It’s currently the fastest-growing cybersecurity threat to enterprises, and hackers may utilise this strategy to greatly speed up their attempts at cryptojacking to illegally mine for money.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking?

1.    Keep up with the Latest Trends

Regardless of your familiarity with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, cryptojacking is the most recent cyberattack, and it’s important to learn about it. Your chances of protecting your smart gadgets and the private information stored on them increase as you learn more about it. Here are some trustworthy websites to check out:

  • Coindesk is a well-known business website that offers current information on all facets of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
  • On the news website CryptoSlate, you may read trending stories and learn about the most recent business news.
  • Cointelegraph is a seasoned blockchain news source, frequently offering useful details on cryptocurrencies and other tech.

2.    Install an Ad-Blocking or Anti-Crypto Mining Extension

Since cryptojacking scripts are usually delivered through internet adverts, it is a good idea to use an ad blocker to stop them. Different ad blockers, including Ad Blocker Plus, can identify crypto mining scripts. Laliberte advises using extensions like No Coin and MinerBlock to find and disable crypto mining programmes.

3.    Use Endpoint Protection

Several endpoint protection/antivirus software providers have integrated crypto miner detection into their products.

4.    Perform Regular Malware and Spyware Checks

Now that you are aware of what cryptojacking malware is, make time to scan your devices for malware and spyware routinely. To be safe, perform it at least once every month, and think about spending money on software with a track record of success.

5.    Disable Javascript

Deactivating JavaScript can shield your computer from the malware that steals cryptocurrency when you browse the web. Although this avoids drive-by cryptojacking, it might also make it difficult for you to access necessary services.

Final Thoughts

The only thing “taken” during a cryptojacking attack is the victim’s computer’s electricity, making the crime appear relatively harmless. However, this illicit use of computer resources is carried out without the victim’s knowledge or consent, favouring criminals who are making money unlawfully. We advise that you install reliable cybersecurity software or intranet security on all your devices to lessen the risks.

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