- Cryptojacking is the unauthorised use of someone’s computer by attackers to mine cryptocurrencies for financial gain, with victims unknowingly contributing computing power.
- Attackers employ malware delivered through emails, infected websites, or compromised software downloads to exploit victims’ CPU and GPU power for cryptocurrency mining.
- Organised cybercrime groups typically orchestrate cryptojacking, leveraging technical expertise and system vulnerabilities to deploy sophisticated malware.
- Cryptojacking malware infiltrates computers through phishing emails, malicious links and attachments, infected websites, and compromised software downloads.
- Protection against cryptojacking includes maintaining updated software, cautious handling of email attachments and downloads, and monitoring computer performance to detect anomalies.
Introduction to Cryptojacking
Cryptojacking has gained popularity amongst cybercriminals due to its potential for financial gain without the need for direct interaction with the victims. It refers to the unauthorised use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrencies. This malicious activity often goes unnoticed by the victims, who unknowingly contribute their computing power to generate cryptocurrencies for the attackers.
In this article, we explore what cryptojacking is, how it works, who is behind it, how the malware gets on users’ computers, and most importantly, how to protect against this emerging threat.
How Does Cryptojacking Work?
Cryptojacking involves the use of malware designed to exploit a victim’s computer resources for cryptocurrency mining. The malware is usually delivered through various methods, such as malicious email attachments, infected websites, or compromised software downloads.
Once the malware infects a computer, it silently runs in the background, utilising the victim’s central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) power to mine cryptocurrencies. This process consumes a significant amount of computational resources, slowing down the victim’s computer and potentially causing it to overheat.
The mined cryptocurrencies are then sent to the attacker’s crypto wallet, allowing them to profit from the victim’s resources.
Who Is Behind Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is predominantly carried out by organised cybercrime groups seeking financial gain. These groups have the technical expertise to develop sophisticated malware and exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems.
Regardless of the perpetrators, it is crucial to understand the motives behind cryptojacking in order to effectively be protected.
How Does Cryptojacking Malware Get on a User’s Computer?
Cryptojacking malware enters a user’s computer through various means. One common method is through phishing emails that trick users into opening malicious attachments or clicking on malicious links. These emails may appear to be legitimate communications from trusted sources, but they are carefully crafted to deceive the recipients. Once the attachment is opened or the link is clicked, the malware is downloaded onto the victim’s computer without their knowledge.
Another method involves infected websites that exploit vulnerabilities in web browsers or plugins to deliver the malware. Additionally, compromised software downloads from untrusted sources can also introduce cryptojacking malware onto users’ computers.
It is crucial to exercise caution when opening email attachments, clicking links, and downloading software in order to minimise the risk of infection.
Learn how to recognise phishing attempts here.
How Users Can Protect Themselves Against Cryptojacking
Protecting against cryptojacking requires a combination of proactive measures and cybersecurity best practices. Below are some essential steps individuals can take in order to minimise the risk of falling victim to cryptojacking:
- Keep software up to date: Regularly update the operating system, web browsers, and plugins with the latest security patches. These updates often include important security fixes that can help protect against known vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cryptojacking malware.
- Use reputable security software: Install and regularly update reputable antivirus and antimalware software on each computer. These tools can detect and remove cryptojacking malware before it can cause any harm.
- Exercise caution with email attachments and links: Be wary of unsolicited emails and avoid opening attachments or clicking links from unknown or suspicious sources. Verify the legitimacy of the email and its attachments before taking any action.
- Be cautious when downloading software: Only download software from trusted sources, such as official websites or reputable app stores. Avoid downloading software from untrusted or third-party sources, as they may be infected with cryptojacking malware.
- Enable browser extensions: Consider installing browser extensions or plugins that can block cryptojacking scripts from running on websites. These extensions can help detect and prevent cryptojacking attempts while browsing the internet.
- Monitor computer performance: Keep an eye on computer performance, such as CPU and GPU usage, and be alert to any sudden slowdowns or overheating. Unexplained high resource usage may indicate the presence of cryptojacking malware.
By following these preventive measures alongside other safeguards, users can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cryptojacking and protect their computer resources.
Read our 101 on how to keep safe with a Crypto.com account here.
Cryptojacking poses a significant threat to individuals and organisations alike, as it silently hijacks computer resources for financial gain. Understanding how cryptojacking works, who is behind it, and how the malware gets on users’ computers is essential in combating this emerging threat.
By staying vigilant, keeping software up to date, using reputable security software, exercising caution with email attachments and downloads, and monitoring computer performance, users can protect themselves against cryptojacking and safeguard their computing resources.
For more information, read our University article 7 Common Crypto Scams and How to Avoid Them.
Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research
All examples listed in this article are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, cybersecurity, or other advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Crypto.com to invest, buy, or sell any coins, tokens, or other crypto assets. Returns on the buying and selling of crypto assets may be subject to tax, including capital gains tax, in your jurisdiction. Any descriptions of Crypto.com products or features are merely for illustrative purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, invitation, or solicitation.
Past performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future performance. The value of crypto assets can increase or decrease, and you could lose all or a substantial amount of your purchase price. When assessing a crypto asset, it’s essential for you to do your research and due diligence to make the best possible judgement, as any purchases shall be your sole responsibility.