Cryptojacking refers to using a person’s computing resources for mining cryptocurrency without the person’s content.
In crypto mining, individual users may choose to contribute unused computing resources from their devices such as servers, personal computers, mobile devices, etc., for mining rewards (usually a portion of the mined crypto asset), which can be sold for fiat currencies on cryptocurrency exchanges. The typical practice for crypto mining requires purchasing dedicated hardware for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies as well as cooling systems, given they generate a lot of heat due to the heavy and complex mining tasks. This significantly drives up electricity costs, not to mention the capital intensiveness of such a set-up.
Hence, malicious hackers find more ingenious ways to garner needed computing resources without bearing the associated costs while receiving all the proceeds of the mining activities. This is what is known as Cryptojacking.
Types of Cryptojacking schemes
Although cryptojacking has been executed in countless ways, the two popular methods are file-based and browser-based cryptojacking.
Similar to business e-mail compromise (BEC) scams, file-based cryptojacking is generally executed via e-mails. The hacker may attach malicious links or attachments containing cryptomining malware installed on the victim’s device when they click either the links or attachments. This program runs silently on the device, impacting its performance and may ultimately wear it out.
Browser-based cryptojacking is usually installed on a victim’s device when they access a website owned or already compromised by the hacker with an embedded cryptojacking script. Like file-based cryptojacking, all of the mining processes run in the background without the knowledge of unsuspecting victims.
Cryptojacking detection – 3 things to look out for
The first significant sign of a cryptojacking attack is an unusual increase in CPU usage, leading to slower computer performance of the victim’s regular activities on the device.
Given this intense performance by the device, a lot of heat is generated, and the cooling systems of the device kick in more often, consequently increasing power consumption.
The rise of cryptojacking is not lost on industry-certified antivirus software companies, and many have begun implementing antivirus programs that identify malicious cryptocurrency mining malware running on unsuspecting victims’ devices; hence, a good antivirus software can help mitigate cryptojacking attacks.