With digital assets gaining all the steam, many crypto-related scams have sprouted – one of which is cryptojacking. Many have fallen prey to these devious schemes, and unknowingly so. We’ll tackle what defines cryptojacking, how it works, and how you can stay safe from this growing cyber threat.
What Is Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is a prevalent cybercrime wherein malware, that’s installed on your device, is used to mine cryptocurrency without your knowledge or consent. Mining cryptocurrency can be a profitable scheme, however, it’s quite costly to maintain. It consumes huge amounts of electricity and mining equipment can be expensive – hence why cybercriminals engage in cryptojacking. Because of these high costs, scammers get their way around this by infecting your computer with malicious files to mine cryptocurrency, which they sell for a profit.
The most commonly mined cryptocurrency is Monero, accounting for 48% of cryptojacking attacks. While it isn’t as popular as the two biggest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum, it’s chosen particularly because of its technology. Monero utilizes advanced technology that preserves privacy in transactions – allowing cryptojackers to stay anonymous. Bitcoin and Ethereum aren’t the top choices due to the stiff competition – with many establishing warehouses filled with mining equipment. Hence, it doesn’t make sense for attackers to mine these coins on someone else’s laptop due to lower returns.
How Does It Work?
This cybercrime works similarly to the others, in the sense that it can be hard to detect especially at first glance. What these attackers do is infect emails and web pages with malware. Once someone downloads a file containing malware or visits a page containing lines of code that enable cryptojacking, the work is done. And the next thing you know, the victim’s device is now used to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge.
While computers are the usual targets of cryptojackers, using a phone doesn’t guarantee your safety from this cyber threat. If you download an app that contains
Note that, unlike other cyber threats, cryptojacking doesn’t have the end goal of stealing your personal data. Rather, this attack focuses on the exploitation of your device’s resources. This threat could take some time before it gets detected as it runs in the background. And if it runs under the background, then how can you tell that your device has been cryptojacked?
How Can You Detect Cryptojacking?
You could be a victim of cryptojacking without you knowing – just ask the millions of cryptojacking victims. Fortunately, there are a few ways to detect if your device has been a few cryptojacking – most of which are related to your device’s performance.
Install an Anti-Virus Software
With criminals getting smarter by the day, it gets more important to keep your device safe. Cryptojacking, as previously mentioned, is known for doing its work behind the scenes, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to stay safe from this cyber security threat.
To protect yourself from cryptojacking, install reputable anti-virus software on your device. By doing so, you prevent your computer from successfully downloading malware that can be used to mine cryptocurrency. Whether it automatically scans each downloaded file or fully scans your hard drive for malware, just let the anti-virus applications do their work. They’ve got you covered on the security front.
When your device feels warm to the touch, it’s a sign that your computer’s hard at work. But even when your computer runs hot when running light tasks, that could be a sign of a bigger problem. And sometimes, that problem could be cryptojacking. And one of the biggest signs that you’ve been affected is when your device heats up more frequently.
When your computer’s cooling fans can no longer keep up, it tends to slow down your device’s performance. And when your device overheats often, you might notice that your battery runs out of juice more quickly. Batteries degrade more quickly when they’re exposed to high temperatures. The life spans of batteries are generally short, but if you notice a sudden drop in your laptop’s battery life, something’s not right. And that could be because you’ve been a victim of cryptojacking.
Slowdown in Performance
Has there been a time when starting up your computer felt like it took ages? Or when your device just couldn’t run as many applications as it used to? One major tell that you’re a victim of cryptojacking is that you’re noticing a slowdown in your computer’s performance. Keep in mind that not all computers slow down due to viruses, occasionally it could be through wear and tear, so it’s wise to have an anti-virus tool ready at all times.
How to Protect Yourself From Cryptojacking
Now that you know how to tell if you’ve been a victim of cryptojacking, it’s just as important to know how you can protect yourself from this growing cyber threat. Here are some ways you can stay safe:
Update Your Anti-Virus Software
Downloading reputable anti-virus software is a must, but so is updating it. Regular updates allow your anti-virus software to detect new threats – many of which are being created each day by attackers. Without regular updates, your device stays vulnerable to the latest cyber threats.
Monitor The Resources on Your Computer
Cryptojacking is a silent threat – hence, one way to prevent this is by monitoring your device’s resources regularly. That means checking your CPU usage and power consumption. If you notice that these are frequently on the higher end, especially when your computer isn’t performing heavy tasks, then you shouldn’t rule out the possibility of being cryptojacked.
What Are The Impacts of Cryptojacking?
Attacks such as cryptojacking must be taken seriously as it harms both consumers and businesses alike. Here are the major impacts of this cyber threat:
Shortened Device Lifespan
Crypto mining takes a huge toll on a computer due to its excessive consumption of resources. A consistently high CPU usage and a frequently overheating device create the perfect storm of a shortened lifespan. If you don’t successfully eliminate the threat, you might end up replacing your device earlier than expected.
As if purchasing a new device wasn’t enough, you’ll also be experiencing a spike in your electricity bills. Crypto mining is notorious for being resource-heavy due to the high electricity consumption. And if you’re a business owner, you might have to spend a little more to determine the cause of your lagging computers.
Is Cryptojacking Illegal?
While the issue of cryptojacking doesn’t sound serious as it only takes advantage of a device’s computing power, it’s considered a crime. This is because these acts are done without the victim’s knowledge and at the same time, done for the benefit of the attacker.
The crypto market may be dealing with a cold winter, but that hasn’t stopped cyber attackers from dealing with this lucrative crime. Its impacts are serious. And now, more than ever, it is important that you protect yourself from this emerging cyber threat.
To stay protected, you must be aware of the telltale signs of cryptojacking such as the performance slowdown and overheating of your device. But knowledge isn’t enough – preventing the incidence of cryptojacking is key to staying safe from cyber criminals. Installing anti-virus software and monitoring your device’s use of resources can keep the cryptojackers away.