Understanding Cryptojacking/Cryptomining

Cryptojacking/cryptomining are important concepts to understand for any IT security professional.

In the world of cryptocurrencies, a new threat has emerged that is keeping IT security and risk management professionals on high alert: cryptojacking and cryptomining. These insidious scams involve hackers secretly using other people’s computing power to mine cryptocurrencies, often without their knowledge or consent. In this article, we will delve into the world of cryptojacking and cryptomining, discussing what they are, how they work, and most importantly, how you can protect yourself and your organization from falling victim to these malicious schemes.

Cryptojacking/cryptomining: Are They Different?

While cryptomining is a fundamental part of cryptocurrency infrastructure, unscrupulous actors can attempt to use your resources for their own profit. Defense against the scams that introduce cryptojacking scripts into your environment can prevent significant costs in terms of detecting and eliminating these hidden scripts that slow your computers.

What Is Cryptojacking/Cryptomining?

The explosive rise of cryptocurrencies (crypto, for short) has reshaped the financial landscape and created a new, albeit sometimes confusing, vocabulary, with even the fundamentals of the concept sometimes hiding behind its new dictionary. A careful investor or technician must understand the basics of cryptomining, and anyone concerned about their workstation’s safety should consider the importance of cryptojacking.

Cryptomining, short for “cryptocurrency mining,” refers to the process of verifying crypto transactions and adding them to the blockchain ledger. Such a long series of dealings requires massive amounts of computing power, but as machines process these calculations, they “mint” new tokens that users can then use for further transactions.

How Does Cryptomining Work?

Cryptomining involves a series of complex mathematical problems that validate existing transactions and add them to the blockchain record, reinforcing the permanence of the global crypto record. As a reward for their service to the industry, cryptominers receive new cryptocurrency tokens, which supplement existing circulation.

What Is Cryptojacking?

Cryptomining has enormous power and computational requirements, but the time and power needed for contemporary blockchain validation are prohibitively demanding. Some miners exercise patience or expand their operations (which causes an ongoing shortage of certain computer parts). Hackers, however, use less scrupulous means, hijacking others’ computers to do the work for them.

How Does Cryptojacking Work?

A cryptojacker secretly installs software onto a victim’s computer, whether by using a false link in a website or email, an infected online ad, or compromising a high-traffic website or software. Once installed, the unauthorized program runs in the background, away from the user’s attention, and uses the computer’s power to mine for cryptocurrency.

The software ties itself to the attacker’s anonymous account, so they profit from the resources expended to perform the necessary calculations rather than the computer’s owner.

How to Detect Cryptojacking

The covert nature of this cybercrime makes detection difficult, but if you notice your device is showing any of the following signs, cryptojacking software may have compromised it:

  • Runs slower
  • Draws more power or depletes battery faster
  • Loads networks slower
  • Uses more processor power and heats up quickly

Anti-virus software can help remove the malicious software and return the machine to working order, but preventive measures are much easier to implement than repairs.

How to Protect Against Crypto Jacking

  • Regular updates and patches can help protect systems against malicious software (including both cryptojacking tech and other forms of malware). Security experts race to stay ahead of trends in criminal computing, and regular updates can help keep your computer safe.
  • Passive anti-virus software can also help detect and alert you of dangerous websites and programs before you visit or install them, allowing you to continue to browse in relative safety.
  • Education, such as this very article, can also make a huge difference. Knowledge of the threats you face and the tools at your disposal with which you can avoid or counter them can be your most powerful weapon against cryptojackers and the dozens of other cybercriminals online.

Cryptomining is a critical part of the infrastructure of digital currency, but cryptojacking involves the corruption of that process for personal gain at the expense of others. Knowledge of the proper terms helps laymen prepare themselves to better navigate the new world of digital transactions.

Cryptojacking/cryptomining and the Cloud

What was once restricting to PCs has moved to cloud services. This expansion can defeat virus detection and expand  your problem and costs.

Bolster can help in the detection of cryptojackers. Contact us for a demo.