It’s staggering to realize that Bitcoin, the very first cryptocurrency, splashed onto the scene almost a decade ago. It’s only been over this past year that digital coinage has really gained its tremendous popularity. As of January 2018, there are well over one thousand varieties of cryptocurrency in circulation — Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, IOTA and many more.
But whether you participate in the buying and selling of cryptocurrency or you know nothing about it, you could be a victim of cryptojacking. Oftentimes, people don’t even notice that their machine has been hijacked. Here’s what you need to know in order to defend yourself.
Cryptocurrency is digital money you use to make secure and anonymous online payments without involving a bank. All the purchases and transfers are encrypted, stored, and recorded in a ledger. The later is known as a blockchain, a kind of living history book of cryptocurrency. All its data securely encrypted with uncrackable code.
Every single transaction for every single bit of cryptocurrency is recorded in the blockchain. This requires an enormous amount of computer processing power, and that’s where the cryptominers come in.
It’s true. Cryptomining is a legitimate new business where companies and individuals dedicate a considerable amount of CPU power to cryptomining. This is an intensive process of computing and solving complicated mathematical problems in order to earn a Proof of Work, or PoW. It verifies the next block in the chain. Cryptomining serves two purposes — it updates the ledger and it releases more cryptocurrency into the system.
It also pays very well. The current reward for mining a block is 12.5 BTC (Bitcoins). Today, it is worth just under $140,000. That’s why everyone is getting in on the act. Cryptocurrency has become big money.
With such serious bread behind that digital dough, of course, cybercriminals wanted in. They even thought about the problem of the massive computer resources required — why invest in expensive equipment and processing chips when you can get other people’s computers to do the work for you?
The miner hijacks your CPU (usually without your knowledge or consent) and redirects its power towards earning the next PoW. This takes advantage of not only your computer but also your electric bill. Worse, if forced to crank its full power for too long, your computer could overheat. You could see some programs malfunction. In the case of mobile devices, this can even lead to the destruction of the device by overheating its battery or greatly reducing the device’s lifespan.
One tricky aspect of mining malware is that it occurs in the background, and the common user sees no sign that it’s happening. There are no obvious signs unless your computer is overheating or slowing down substantially in how it performs very simple processing tasks.
So, while cryptomining is legal, if you want to stop others from cryptojacking your computer or avoid cryptomining altogether, you have a couple of options:
Use a strong antivirus like Avast that protects against cryptojacking by detecting all insecure websites and blocking anything malicious, including cryptomining.
Always make sure your Windows software is updated to prevent against vulnerabilites like EternalBlue which can be used to spread cryptomining attacks.
Defend your digital life, and stay tuned to this blog for up-to-date news on the latest trends and threats. Contact Musato Technologies to learn more about our innovative ICT services that are transforming businesses.
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