Reported as one of the emerging threats, cryptojacking has grown steadily with the spread of cryptocurrencies. Let's see what it is and how to defend against cryptojacking.
What is cryptojacking and why it affects everyone.
It is a system that generates cryptocurrency by exploiting the victim's computer resources without the victim noticing. The big difference with other cyber threats, such as ransomware, is that cryptojacking is specially designed to remain silent and hidden from the victim for as long as possible. In practice, any device, PC, tablet and smartphone, can be infected with this attack to generate virtual currency.
How cryptocurrency works.
The best known is certainly Bitcoin, but to date, there are about 3,000 different cryptocurrencies. Simplifying, we can say that this digital money uses a distributed database known as blockchain, constantly updated on all the transactions carried out, which constitute a block. To create the blocks, a lot of computing power is required which is provided by people, called miners, who receive cryptocurrency in exchange. There are thus teams of miners who collaborate with the major cryptocurrencies, but all this generates high costs, especially as regards electricity.
Who are the cryptojackers.
Cybercriminals, specifically called cryptojackers, have thus thought of exploiting other unsuspecting resources to generate cryptocurrency without incurring the costs. Engagement in this type of attack is closely linked to the spread and value of cryptocurrency, so it is evident that it becomes a growing threat following the increasing number of people interested and involved in cryptocurrency exchange.
How can you fall victim to cryptojacking?
To understand how you can become a victim of cryptojackin it is good to know how it works. It is a malicious code that can be installed on the device through three main ways.
1) By sending the victim a malicious link by email. Clicking it loads the malicious code.
2) Infecting a website or any online promotional ad. This uses a code that once loaded on the browser automatically runs the cryptojacking software.
3) Since this attack also affects mobile devices, it is possible that the malicious code is inserted into an app.
As it is designed to remain hidden, it is very difficult for the victim to discover that they have been infected. Furthermore, this type of software with causes damage to the PC but is limited to using its resources. Furthermore, in some cases these codes are able to expand to other PCs in the same network. If a private individual could just bother about a slower PC, a company could instead face higher costs to solve PC malfunction problems or increased electricity bills.
How to find out if you are a victim of cryptojacking.
As mentioned, this type of attack remains essentially hidden. However, some indications can be found. First of all, a sudden slowdown in PC performance should arouse suspicion, as well as the battery that lasts less than usual. Overheating can also indicate that the PC is carrying out activities beyond what is apparent. Finally, it can be useful to check CPU usage. An unexpected increase should be alarming.
How to defend against this type of cyber attack.
To protect yourself from cryptojacking, the first thing to do is always to install a good antivirus on your pc, it is then important to pay attention to the sites you visit, and the extensions available in the borwser designed to block cryptojacking attacks can also be useful. Another good practice is to avoid clicking on links in suspicious e-mails. Among other things, this attitude also protects against all other cyber threats that can be spread by e-mail.