Everything You Need To Know About Cryptojacking

Everything You Need To Know About Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is the act of poisoning a website to get a computer to mine cryptocurrencies unknowingly. Here's what you can do to prevent it.

I'm sure you've heard of cryptocurrencies by now. Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin have broken into our daily lives and people around the world are harnessing computer power to mine these currencies. Unfortunately, where there is money to be made, there is someone willing to cheat the system.

The new cryptocurrency frenzy has prompted cybercriminals to find new ways to get their hands on these digital currencies. The new, and possibly the most covert, way they are doing this is through cryptojacking.

Cryptojacking is defined as the unauthorized use of someone else's computer to mine cryptocurrency. Hackers can do this by either getting the victim to click on a malicious link in an email that loads a crypto mining code to their computer, or by infecting a website or online ad with JavaScript code that auto-executes once loaded in the victim's browser. 

Either way, the victim has no idea they've been hit as the crypto mining code works entirely in the background while the computer is used normally. The only sign they might notice is slower performance or lags in execution.

Currently, there is no information on how much cryptocurrency is mined through cryptojacking, but there's no question that the practice is gaining speed. Several experts have reported a 31 percent growth in browser-based cryptojacking. Nearly 35,000 websites are running Coinhive, the most popular JavaScript miner that is also used for legitimate crypto mining activity.

Perhaps the reason why cryptojacking is on the rise is because hackers see this as a way to earn more money without the risk of ransomeware. Tim Erlin, VP of product management and strategy at Tripwire put it this way, "Why make the effort of getting a human being to pay a ransom when you can use their resources to generate your own?"

The cybercriminals using the new technique are now looking for bigger and better sources of energy to attach to. Recently, RedLock, a cloud threat defense company, found evidence that hackers infiltrated a public cloud environment owned by Tesla to mine cryptocurrencies.

“The message from this research is loud and clear—the unmistakable potential of cloud environments is seriously compromised by sophisticated hackers identifying easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities,” said Gaurav Kumar, CTO of RedLock and head of the CSI team.

Cloud security experts are now calling for an increase in security of these digital environments to help keep users and customers safe from cryptojacking.

“Security is a shared responsibility," Kumar said. "Organizations of every stripe are fundamentally obliged to monitor their infrastructures for risky configurations, anomalous user activities, suspicious network traffic, and host vulnerabilities. Without that, anything the providers do will never be enough.”

So what can you do to protect yourself and those who may be working on the same networks as you?

Being to incorporate cryptojacking threats into your security awareness training, focusing on phishing-type attempts to load scripts onto computers, install anti-cryptomining extensions to web browsers to try to stop browser attempts and keep your web filtering tools up to date.

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