What is Cryptojacking?



What does “cryptojacking” mean?

Cryptojacking is a form of cybercrime in which hackers use people’s devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, or even servers) to mine for cryptocurrency without their knowledge. The aim is earnings like many types of cybercrime, but unlike others, it is intended to remain completely hidden from the victim.

Cryptojacking is a form of malware that infiltrates a computer or mobile device, then uses its resources to mine cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is virtual money that may take the form of tokens or “coins.” Bitcoin is the most famous cryptocurrency, but there are several thousand different forms of cryptocurrency in existence today, and while some have attempted to enter the physical world via credit cards or other initiatives, most remain digital.

Cryptocurrencies run on a distributed database known as “blockchain.” The blockchain is updated with new data about all transactions that have occurred since the previous update. Using a complex mathematical procedure, blocks are created from recent transactions. Cryptocurrency is rewarded to people who offer computing power. Miners are people who trade computer resources for money.

The more significant cryptocurrencies employ teams of miners running specialized hardware systems to solve the required mathematical algorithms. This operation consumes a lot of electricity — for example, the Bitcoin network presently consumes over 73TWh each year.

Future of cryptojacking

That is where cryptojacking enters the picture: cryptojackers are individuals who want to reap the benefits of crypto mining without having to pay the high expenses. Cryptojacking allows criminals to mine cryptocurrency without incurring significant costs by not paying for pricey mining equipment or expensive electricity bills. Monero, a type of cryptocurrency mined on personal computers, is appealing to cybercriminals since it is difficult to trace.

There is much debate about whether cryptojacking is on the upswing or declining. Cryptojacking tends to increase every time Bitcoin and Monero’s value rises. Two factors have had a dampening effect on cryptojacking:

  • Crackdowns by the police.
  • The shutdown of Coinhive, which was the most popular site for cryptominers. Coinhive supplied JavaScript code that websites could use to have visitors’ computers mine Monero. Because a mining script may be injected into a website without the site owner’s knowledge, the code on Coinhiver

The goal of a cryptojacking attack is straightforward: money. Mining cryptocurrencies may be very profitable, but generating a profit without the capacity to pay huge costs might be difficult. Cryptojacking is an unlawful form of cryptocurrency mining that provides an unethical yet effective and cheap method to mine valuable currencies.

How does cryptojacking work?

To install cryptojacking software, cybercriminals compromise devices. The malware operates in the background, mining for cryptocurrencies or stealing from cryptocurrency wallets. Although the users are typically unaware of it, their devices operate more slowly or exhibit lags.

Hackers have two primary methods for silently mining cryptocurrencies on a victim’s device:

  • By enticing the victim to click on a malicious link in an email that contains cryptomining code on the computer,
  • JavaScript code that auto-executes once loaded in the victim’s browser is used to infect a website or online ad with malware.

A cryptojacking script is sometimes deployed to your device in one or both of these ways. Both protocols enable the hacker to capitalize on a victim’s computing power, so it’s important not to overlook them. The code installs the cryptojacking script on the device while the user works, and it runs in the background. Whichever technique is employed,

Cryptojacking scripts, unlike other malware, do not damage computers or people’s data. They do, however, take up computer processing resources. Individual users may simply find slower computer performance to be an irritation. Businesses run the risk of real expenditures as a result of cryptojacked systems in their number. For example:

  • The practice of tracking down performance problems and replacing parts or systems in the effort to fix the issue.
  • Increased electricity costs.

Worming capabilities are common in cryptomining scripts. They may infect other devices and servers on a network, making them more difficult to identify and eliminate. These scripts may also check to see whether the device is already infected with competing cryptominer malware. The script will turn off any existing cryptominer if another one is discovered.

Some web publishers attempted to monetize their traffic by requesting permission from visitors to mine for cryptocurrencies while on their site in early instances of cryptomining. They likened it to a fair trade: visitors would get free stuff, and the sites would use their computer for mining. Users might stay on a game site for some time while the JavaScript code mines for coin, as an example.Users have trouble determining whether websites are being truthful or not.

Malicious cryptomining variants, i.e. cryptojacking, do not request permission and continue to run after you depart the initial site. This is a tactic used by shady operators or hackers who have hacked reputable sites control. Users are unaware that a website they’ve visited has been mining cryptocurrency on their computer. The software employs just enough system resources to fly under the radar. Despite the fact that the visible browser windows appear to be closed, an invisible one remains open all of the time. It’s frequently a pop-under, which is sized specifically for placement beneath the taskbar or behind the clock so it doesn’t show up immediately when you open your browser again (sometimes known as an adfly).

It can also affect Android mobile devices, using the same techniques that target desktop computers. Some assaults use a Trojan installed in a downloaded program to infect systems. Users’ phones might also be redirected to an infected website, which displays a persistent pop-under. Individual smartphones have limited processing power, but when attacks take place in large numbers, they offer enough collective strength to justify the cryptojackers’ time and effort.

Cryptojacking attack – examples

The following are some examples of cryptojacking that have gained a lot of media attention.:

  • In 2019, eight distinct apps that covertly mined cryptocurrency with the computing power of anyone who downloaded them were removed from the Microsoft Store. According to reports, the applications were purported to have been created by three different developers, although it was thought that they had all been produced by the same person or group. Users may be exposed to cryptojacking software when they look for it using keyword searches on the Microsoft Store or lists of top free apps. When a user opened one of the applications, cryptojacking JavaScript code would inadvertently be downloaded and installed. The miner would have to be started, which uses up a substantial quantity of the device’s resources and slows it down.
  • In 2018, cryptojacking malware was discovered hidden inside the Los Angeles Times’ Homicide Report page. When people visited the Homicide Report page on their smartphones, their devices were used to mine Monero, a well-known cryptocurrency. Because the amount of computing power used by the script was low, many users would not realize that their gadgets had been hacked.
  • In 2018, cryptojackers targeted the operational technology network of a European water utility control system, severely impacting the operators’ ability to manage the utility plant. This was the first known case of a cryptojacking assault on an industrial control system like the Los Angeles Times hack. The miner was creating Monero just as in the Los Angeles Times breach.
  • Since January 2018, the CoinHive miner has been discovered to be running on Google’s DoubleClick advertising platform.
  • During July and August 2018, a Cryptojacking assault affected over 200,000 MikroTik routers in Brazil, inserting CoinHive code into a huge number of web traffic.

How to detect cryptojacking

Because the method is frequently concealed or made to appear like a good implementation on your device, detecting cryptojacking may be tough. However, there are three indicators to look for:

Bitcoin theft – 3 things to look for when combating cryptojacking

  1. Decreased performance
  2. One of the most apparent signs of cryptojacking is a decreased level of performance on your computer equipment. Slower systems might be the first indication to look for, so keep an eye on your device’s performance if it begins to operate slowly, crash, or perform in an unusual manner. Another potential sign is if your battery drains faster than usual.
  3. Overheating Cryptojacking is a power-intensive procedure that can cause computers to overheat. This might result in hardware failure or reduce the device’s lifespan. If your laptop’s or PC’s fan is operating at an unusual speed, a cryptojacking script or website may be causing the device to heat up, and your fan is accelerating to avoid melting or fire.
  4. Central Processing Unit (CPU) usage:
  5. When you visit a website with little or no media content, your CPU usage may rise. It’s possible that cryptojacking scripts are running if you notice an increase in CPU use when browsing to a website with little or no media content. Check the central processing unit (CPU) usage of your device using Activity Monitor or Task Manager to see whether any processes are running. When your computer is at maximum capacity, it will operate unexpectedly slowly, making it more difficult to troubleshoot.

How to Avoid Being Cryptojacked

Use a good cybersecurity program:

A comprehensive cybersecurity plan such as Kaspersky Total Security may help to identify all kinds of threats and can also offer malware resistance. It is always preferable to install security before you become a victim, and it is also good practice to download and install the most recent software updates and patches for your operating system, as well as any other applications that may be vulnerable.

Keep an eye on the newest cryptojacking trends:

Cybercriminals are constantly updating their code and inventing new means to install altered scripts on your computer system. Being proactive and staying on top of the newest cybersecurity threats can assist you in detecting cryptojacking on your network and devices, as well as other kinds of cybersecurity dangers.

Use browser extensions designed to block cryptojacking:

Cryptojacking scripts are frequently used in web browsers. MinerBlock, No Coin, and Anti Miner are three browser add-ons that may be used to block cryptojackers across the internet. They’re added to your browser as extensions in some of the most popular ones.

Use ad blockers:

Installing an ad blocker might be enough to stop cryptojacking scripts since they are frequently distributed through online advertisements. Ad blockers, such as Ad Blocker Plus, can both detect and block maliciouscryptojacking code.

Disable JavaScript:

Disabling JavaScript on your browser when looking for information online can prevent cryptojacking malware from infecting your computer. While this does stop drive-by cryptojacking, it may also prevent you from using features that you require.

Block pages that have been linked to distribute cryptojacking scripts:

Make sure each website you visit is on a carefully selected whitelist to avoid cryptojacking when surfing the web. You may also blacklist sites known for cryptojacking, but your device or network might still be vulnerable to new cryptojacking pages.

Cryptojacking may appear to be a minor offense because the victim’s computer only loses power. However, criminals who are illicitly creating currency use computing power for this illegal purpose without the victim’s knowledge or consent, in the interests of criminals who are illegally generating money. To reduce risk and install proven cybersecurity solutions on all of your devices is one way to avoid becoming a cryptojacker yourself.

In 2021, Kaspersky Internet Security received two AV-TEST accolades for the best performance and protection in its class. In all of the trials, Kaspersky Internet Security exhibited outstanding performance and resistance to cyber threats.