What is cryptojacking and how does it affect your computer

What is cryptojacking and how does it affect your computer

When it comes to talking about hacking techniques and types of malware, one can miss the point. And it is that the possibilities and stratagems of cybercriminals today are infinite and intricate . A good example of this is something called cryptojacking and that is one of the latest trends in spreading crime on the networks.

The latest data from the malware report published by the security company G DATA , cryptojacking occupies a privileged position. But what exactly is it and in what way can it affect the common user?

Well, to explain it we will have to start at the beginning. And for that, we have to focus on what is called cryptocurrency mining. An upward trend, which is already part of the TOP 10 of threats and potentially unwanted programs.


What is cryptojacking

Let's first see what it means to mine cryptocurrencies. This practice is described as follows: it consists of using the power of a computer equipment to perform a series of calculations and verify the transactions that have been made through digital currencies. What those who perform mining receive is an economic compensation in precisely that same cryptocurrency. This can be exchanged a posteriori for another currency, such as euros or dollars.

Through cryptojacking, cybercriminals can hijack these same computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies . Malware dedicated to this practice has increased considerably in recent times, due in part to the proliferation of cryptocurrency.

It all started last year, when the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum soared considerably . This caused the interest of criminals in this currency to increase exponentially and they developed, as an inevitable effect, new cryptojacking strategies.

For cybercriminals, applying cryptojacking is much more advantageous than installing ordinary malware on someone's computer or mobile device. Thanks to this technique they can profit in a much faster and more effective way. But this is not all: because these cryptojacking strategies make the criminals go much less noticeable to the victims, who cannot even realize that something strange has happened.

Accessing the equipment is relatively easy

It is relatively easy for cyber criminals to gain access to users' computers to illegally mine cryptocurrency. To achieve this, they use coinminers or cryptocurrency miners , specifically designed to take control of the processing capacity of the equipment and the use of the CPU in the cloud. From there they can mine cryptocurrencies at will.

The thing is that the access barrier is usually quite weak, in the sense that to be able to access and start mining coins, it would be enough to type a couple of lines of code. In addition, this type of attack allows criminals to remain anonymous, so that they can go more unnoticed than with any other type of attack.

Cryptojacking is nothing harmless

We have told you that attackers can go unnoticed, but the effects of their attack are more than evident. It may not cause as many effects as any malicious software, but victims' computers can overheat excessively and cause irreparable - or indeed costly - damage to computers.

This is a way to silently harm computers , because cybercriminals will be using the potential of users' computers for their own benefit. The latter, of course, should be attentive to any symptoms, because it can be an indicator that something is not quite right:

  • The equipment and specifically the battery overheats excessively
  • The computer runs extremely slow, for no apparent reason
  • Some devices are completely disabled

Private users can have their computers affected. Companies may suffer the consequences of this practice more intensely. Depending on how cybercriminals use your computers CPU , repair costs and financial losses can be more than considerable.

In recent months, these cryptocurrency miners or coinminers have been found installed in different applications, both for iOS and Android, as well as in Chrome extensions . At the end of last year, almost two million coinminers were detected silently installed on computers.


How to stay protected from cryptojacking?

Anyone can become a victim of cryptojacking, but there are certain user and team profiles that can be more vulnerable. In any case, it is convenient to be well equipped with a good security solution, updated and prevented against this type of attack. Luckily, most security firms are already working to keep cryptojacking away from users' computers, but specific plugins still need to be used to combat this looming threat.

Failing that, or as a complement, it is advisable to be specially prepared with browser extensions specifically designed to combat cryptocurrency mining . There are a couple of very useful tools for Chrome (the browser most affected by cryptojacking) called No Coin or minerBlock.

On the other hand, blocking systems for mining scripts are available, also for Chrome and Mozilla . In this case, experts recommend trying uBlock Origin and NoScript.

And to continue to prevent, it should be noted that attacks can be hidden on manipulated websites. As soon as a computer is infected, the malware runs in the memory of the attacked computer and leaves no trace on the computer's hard drive.

When it is inside the system, it can take over the user's administration privileges and from there, steal any type of information and install new malware.

Alert with downloadable video games and linked files

According to G DATA, in the first half of the year, three programs dedicated to cryptojacking ranked in the TOP 10 of the most dangerous threats. All users must be especially alert to what they download and the pages they access , but video game fans must be more vigilant than anyone.

Teenagers in search of trendy video games are a very interesting target for cybercriminals. They know it perfectly. Hence, well-known titles are being used to hide threats, especially on Windows computers and Android mobile devices. Fortnite and other successful video games are perfect candidates to be used as a shield for deception , now also for cryptojacking.