The world first heard of cryptocurrencies in 2009. Despite the initial skepticism over the digital coins and blockchain technology needed, the world slowly grew warm to the idea of decentralized currencies. With time, cryptocurrencies have attracted an increasingly massive number of global users. However, as the crypto industry continues to gain popularity, so do the chances of crypto cybercrimes increase.
Cybercriminals are using ransomware-like tactics from various target devices to secretly mine cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency mining became a lucrative business as cryptocurrencies grew in acceptance as well as value. With this growth, cryptojacking has become the latest tactic for cybercriminals, which primarily target whales.
Well, your digital assets are of great value, and it’s best to take some measures to protect them. So, how can you avoid cryptojacking? In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know and several tips to keep your digital assets safe.
What is Cryptojacking?
It is a malicious activity where a hacker hijacks a target’s processing power and bandwidth (in most cases, this works without their awareness or consent) to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker’s behalf.
Attackers try to break into multiple devices, as crypto mining requires lots of processing power. This tactic enables them to gather enough computation resources to perform low-risk and low-cost mining activities.
Initially, cryptojacking depended on the victims to click on malicious links or email attachments, thus accidentally infecting their systems with a hidden crypto-miner. However, cryptojacking has evolved, and more sophisticated types of this malware have been developed in the last couple of years, raising the cryptojacking approach to a whole new level.
How to Detect Cryptojacking Attacks
Cryptojacking can affect your entire business operation, and detecting which of your systems has been compromised can be a difficult task. Codes used in crypto mining scripts can easily evade detection, which requires you and your IT team to be extremely vigilant.
Here’s how you can detect cryptojacking before it’s too late.
- Decrease in Computing Performance
Crypto mining can cause a reduction in performance in your computing devices, including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. It can slow down even essential functions, and this can be the first sign of a malware attack. Monitor your systems often and educate the people you work with to identify any delays and lags quickly. Quick detection can help reduce the impact of the attack significantly.
Cryptojacking can cause computing devices to overheat due to its resource-intensive process. It can damage your computer or shorten its lifespan. Besides, overheating can cause fans to run longer than they should in an attempt to cool down the system, which can lead to hardware failure and repairs and an increase in your IT budget.
- Monitor Levels of CPU Usage
Check and analyze your computer for any abnormal Central Processing Unit (CPU) usage. Do this using the Activity Monitor on Mac computers or Task Manager on your PC. You may notice an increase in CPU usage when you’re visiting a website that doesn’t have a lot of media content, and this could be a sign that cryptojacking is happening.
- Monitor Changes on your Website
Regularly check for any changes to webpages of files on your website. Hackers are looking for susceptible sites where they can embed crypto mining codes. Detecting this early can save your systems from being compromised by cryptojacking.
- Scan for Malware
Always scan for malware while making sure that your security software is up to date. Cryptomining malware uses up system resources much the same as cryptojacking scripts. Detecting this can help you plan quickly and stop cryptojacking from happening on your computer and other devices.
- Be Aware of Cryptojacking Trends
Cybercriminals are continuously updating cryptojacking information and coming up with new mining scripts and methods of infecting your computer. Staying on top of the latest trends and threats by relying on reliable sources such as Coindesk can help you detect cryptojacking on your network and devices.
Tips for Preventing Cryptojacking
- Using Bitcoin Tumbler
One of the facts that crypto criminals exploit fully is that bitcoin transactions are recorded on a public ledger. As such, anyone on the blockchain can quickly access information on all the purchases made. Criminals use this information to determine possible targets by identifying anyone on the blockchain with high transaction amounts.
If you are not keen on having your transactions made public, then you may want to check out Bitcoinmixer. This tool is one of the bitcoin tumblers available today and helps you remain anonymous on the blockchain by mixing your coins and shuffling your transaction addresses, so you are untraceable on the network.
- Using Ad-blocking or Anti-crypto mining Extension for Web Browsers
Installing an ad blocker can be an actual means of stopping cryptojacking threats since cryptojacking scripts are often delivered through web ads. People in the crypto realm should leverage extensions like NoCoin and MinerBlock to reduce the likelihood of cryptocurrency mining scripts initiated in this fashion.
- Cyber Security Education
Cryptojacking starts with phishing emails where employees receive these emails and carelessly click the malicious links or attachments on offer. By doing so, they unknowingly initiate a script on their devices, thus beginning the cryptojacking process.
You should train your IT team not to click on links on emails that execute cryptojacking code and only download from trusted links. Also, apply the same rule for the personal email on your own devices.
- Employee Engagement
Cyber awareness programs that educate employees on the latest attacks, such as cryptojacking and the signs they should look out for are crucial with every cyber threat. These programs will build a culture of constant vigilance and reporting suspected cryptojacking incidents in the same way that they would report a spam email.
- Use Endpoint Protection
Many of the endpoint protection/antivirus software vendors have added crypto miner detection to their products because it’s capable of detecting known crypto miners. Ensure you install your machines with the latest updates from your antivirus provider to reduce the likelihood of your organization exposed to cryptojacking and other cyber threats.
- Look out for Cryptojacking signs
Since cryptojacking works by stealing processing power, it could be running on the company server, or employee laptops and smartphones. Investigate what’s running in the background once you notice a device running slower than usual or consistently overheating. Experienced delays in accessing network locations or frequent crashing are also signs of a compromised server. If there’s something unusual, it could be a mining component that you can uninstall.
Although cryptocurrencies promised anonymous transactions while they were being introduced, the crypto space has evolved so much over the last decade, and we cannot conclude that this is the case today. Because of the information available in the public ledgers, crypto criminals are now thriving.
Cryptojacking can lead to significant losses for the trader. Anyone who transacts on the blockchain can fall victim, and it helps to know how to identify red flags and keep your assets safe. While any of the tips above will help prevent cryptojacking, we would recommend using Bitcoinmixer, or crypto wallets such as Wasabi and/or Samourai Whirlpool so that you are assured of complete anonymity while trading.