Nowadays, we use technology in many aspects of our lives. We study, work, entertain, socialize, and much more using our computers and smartphones. But with the growth in our use of technology has come to the emergence of many forms of cybercrimes and new types of threats to our privacy and security.
Some of these crimes, such as ransomware and DDOS attacks, are more well-known among people. However, there are some specific forms of cyberattacks of which many people are unaware, even though they are as destructive as the infamous ones. One of these cyberattacks that you should know of is cryptojacking.
What is cryptojacking?
When a hacker uses others’ computers or mobile phones to mine cryptocurrencies, we call it cryptojacking.
Cryptojacking is a fitting term for describing the combination of cryptocurrencies and hijacking. Using various malware, cryptojackers break into their victims’ devices and use the hardware for mining different types of digital currencies.
You do not need to be in the business of cryptocurrencies in order to become a candidate for cryptojackers! Anyone, anywhere around the world who has a computer or smartphone can be a potential victim of this type of cybercrime. Cryptojackers use the hardware and the processing power of their victim’s device to mine cryptocurrencies for their own financial benefits.
In most case scenarios, people do not even notice that their computer or smartphone has been cryptojacked! Unfortunately, this is the case for the victims of most cybercrimes. People are not aware and have not been properly educated, so they never realize these crimes are taking place in their devices. When they find out, it’s sometimes just too late!
How do cryptojacking attacks occur?
The process of cryptojacking attacks is somehow like phishing. Cryptojackers usually share a malicious link in an email message disguised as a friendly or work-related message, and then ask their victims to click on the link. When the victims click on the malicious link, they download a malware onto their computer, which starts cryptomining without the consent or even the knowledge of the device’s owner.
There are some other ways for cryptojackers to break into people’s computers as well. For instance, cryptojackers might infect a website or an online advertisement with malicious codes. This way, whenever people click on these links or advertisements, they will allow their device to be cryptojacked.
Either way, these cryptojacking tools are well hidden and work very silently; and this is the reason that people usually never find out that their computer has been cryptojacked. The only visible sign of cryptojacking is that the victims’ computer or smartphone begin lagging, which can be difficult to notice for most people.
Why is it bad to be cryptojacked?
Unlike many other types of cybercrimes, you might not face a financial loss or find your privacy and online security endangered when your device is cryptojacked; you will not lose any sensitive data, encounter online harassment, or end up as the victim of public embarrassments due to your private data leaking online.
So, how can being cryptojacked be bad? After all, the malware is only sitting quietly in the background and mining cryptocurrencies. What can be dangerous about that?
Well, cryptojacking is still a form of stealing. Its primary purpose might not be breaking into your private folders to steal your sensitive data or money, but it surely steals the power, energy, and your system’s resources.
Moreover, when your system is infected with crypto mining tools, your computers and databases will become noticeably slower, which results in losing time and productivity that can lead to huge financial losses in the long run. This is in fact one thing you must always pay attention to, in case you were wondering how to detect cryptojacking on a device. As you can see, when your system keeps investing a big portion of its processing power into mining, there won’t be enough power for you to dedicate to your work.
Continuous crypto mining on your device also means that your hardware parts accelerate more towards the end of their lifespan, not to mention that this also leads to an inefficient system, frustration, and increased costs for fixing hardware or replacing them altogether.
Lastly, victims of cryptojacking aren’t just leaving their hardware vulnerable to use––they are also opening the way for many other types of cybercrimes to take place in their system or database in the future. In many cases, cryptojacking also involves opening access points, which are potential ways for stealing other sorts of data.
How to prevent cryptojacking?
In order to prevent cryptojacking, the first and foremost step is to educate people and raise awareness about its dangers. Moreover, individuals and organizations should take the necessary measures to identify ways that will help them detect cryptojacking wherever it occurs. With proper education and increased knowledge, many people can easily avoid letting crypto-mining tools make their way into their devices.
The next important step is installing a suitable set of reliable security protocols in our devices. For individuals and organizations alike, installing a good antivirus on systems, tracking devices’ processor usage on a regular basis, and looking out for frequent queries to IP addresses that belong to cryptocurrency mining are necessities for ensuring the protection of our devices. Some of the most popular antivirus software applications such as ESET and Norton claim to protect your devices by detecting cryptojacking scripts as potentially unwanted applications.
For organizations in specific, it is highly recommended to go one step further by acquiring endpoint protection solutions. Such solutions are designed for businesses and organizations, which typically need network-wide protection to prevent cryptojackers and other cybercriminals from infiltrating their systems.
We will cover this area in more detail in the near future; however, if you are interested to get started on the search for a proper endpoint solution, be sure to check out the features of ESET’s Endpoint Encryption Protection Pro and Endpoint Protection Advanced.
Cryptojacking is one of the dangers of the cyber universe and like any other type of cyberattack, it is a threat to our devices. To stay safe and prevent these types of cybercrimes from occurring in our computers and smartphones, we must stay vigilant and install the proper set of software applications to keep our devices safe and protected.
Newcom, an IT distributor in the UAE, offers various cybersecurity and endpoint protection solutions to companies and partners across the region. If you are interested in learning more about our offerings, please check out our products page. For further information or any inquiries, make sure to directly call us or reach out through our contact us page.