You are aware of malware and ransomware You know what a computer virus is and you have probably infected it. But do you know about cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is a bit like ransomware, but it is covert and potentially costs more money to the criminals who use it. While ransomware takes your data hostage until you pay the ransom, cryptojacking uses the resources of your computer or phone to mine cryptocurrencies like Monero or Ethereum.
You may never know that it is there. The only thing you might notice is that your computer is not performing as well or as fast as it used to.
Why is cryptojacking a big deal?
You might be thinking, “If I don’t even notice cryptojacking, it costs me nothing and does nothing to harm me, why should I care?”
The money raised from such criminal operations goes beyond just keeping the hacker in the basement buying expensive booze and fancy watches. The money can be used to support organized crime or government-sponsored cyber warfare.
According to hackmageddon.com, over 81% of hacker attacks in 2018 were related to cybercrime and almost 3% were classified as cyberwar. They need to somehow pay for all these hacks.
How do cryptojacking malware get onto my computer?
Cryptojackers invade your computer in several ways. Sometimes it can be obtained by opening an infected attachment in an email or by clicking a phishing link on a website. Or it may appear in a browser attachment that you installed for a legitimate reason.
This is similar to the traditional way viruses spread. If cryptojacking hits your computer in this way, it will run in the background on your computer all the time, quietly digging up cryptocurrencies.
Passage cryptojacking is more sophisticated. It will hide on a website or ad, waiting to appear on your computer. Then it will start mining on your computer if you are on this website or show this advertisement. Cryptojacking is unloaded when you leave the site, and there is no trace of it ever being there.
Do I have a cryptojacker on my computer or phone?
It used to be obvious. CPU usage will go up to almost 100%, and your computer will scan if you can only have one program open or just browsing a website.
However, hackers using cryptojackers are getting wiser and harder and harder to stop. When they were first launched, they consumed as much of your CPU power as they could. However, it alarmed people about its existence. Now they use fewer resources on one computer, but try to hit as many computers as possible.
How do I stop cryptojacking?
Continue to practice good computer security and use the security features of your smartphone. Make sure you use an antivirus app, update your operating system, and allow your browser to update for free.
If you want to make sure your browser is not running drive-by cryptojacking, you can try Chrome extensions such as Coin-Hive Blocker, No-Coin, or minerBlock Try No-miner or minerBlock for Firefox. All major browsers continue to implement security features with every update, so keep those updates going.
Is there a good use for cryptojacking?
The Pirate Bay, Salon.com, UFC.com and others have tried this in the past. People didn’t answer well. As a method of generating income, it provides little benefit due to the high cost of alienating users.
The future of cryptojacking
Will cryptojacking be an ongoing threat? If cryptocurrencies continue to have real value, they will. But how dangerous will it be for you?
Hackers are getting wiser. They understand that stealing pennies from millions is much more difficult to stop than stealing thousands from a few. Cryptojacking will be a minor problem for you and your computer. The social cost of using it to fund new evil schemes may continue to rise.
Do your best to stop this. Update your antivirus regularly and keep updating your operating system and browser. If most of us succeed, we will retain a minor cryptojacking threat.