Cybercriminals aren’t just looking to steal your data, they are also eager to steal the use of your computers for other nefarious purposes. Botnets are a great example. Hackers can infect your computer with a “zombie” virus which remains dormant until something triggers it to act. Previous attacks like these have been used for DDoS attacks or computational bruteforcing.
“My other computer is your computer.”HackerX
Cyptojacking is when a virus on your computer uses your device’s memory, processor, and graphics card to make money for someone else.
Cryptojacking is an outgrowth of the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies. Cybercriminals typically stage a cryptojacking attack by infecting websites that generate a lot of online traffic. When an online user accesses an infected website on a desktop or notebook, malicious code embedded in the website then infects the user’s device. This type of attack isn’t designed to steal your private data, but to harness the power of your computer’s CPU. It’s malware that accesses your computer for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrency.
After the currency is mined, it is then electronically transferred to the cybercriminal and remains untraced. Several difference cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin may be mined this way. And while none of these crypocurrencies are illegal, mining them without permission is.
Over 2,500 websites have already been accused of capturing its visitors’ CPU power to harvest cryptocurrency instead of displaying ads.
So how can you prevent cryptojacking?
- Always use a good antivirus and antimalware software that monitors your traffic
- Make sure that you are updating all your computers, firewalls, and network devices regularly. Most types of malware infect computers by exploiting known vulnerabilities on outdated software that hasn’t been patched.
- Never download or install software that you don’t trust.
- Stay away from websites that look risky. Always be careful if you do, and don’t click on links that lead to suspicious websites.
- Don’t click on links without knowing where they lead.
- Use a reputable adblocker. Many of these will block mining code and specifically look for cryptojacking malware. I recommend using Brave which will save you time and money as well as give you a wall of protection against auto-running scripts on websites.
- Check your CPU usage periodically. A resource monitor will allow you to check and see if CPU usages is abnormally high. In Windows it’s the Task Manager and on a Mac is the Activity Monitor. If you close all your apps but still see CPU usage running very high, you may have a problem.
- If you ever notice generally poor performance or after clicking a link you hear your computer’s fans speed up, you may have caught cryptojacking infection.
What happens if you capture a virus?
If you think that you may have picked up a virus somewhere, not all is lost. Cryptojacking viruses generally don’t affect your personal data or programs. Their sole purpose is to use processing power.
To easily search your computer for infection, use Microsoft’s free Malicious Software remover for Windows. Link: microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=9905
Press Download, then save the program to the place where you can use it. Navigate to where you saved it, then right click to run as an administrator. For in depth results, run a full scan, otherwise run a quick scan. Once it finds the threats, it will take them out so you don’t need to worry.
For Apple products, an easy go would be Malwarebytes.
- Use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac to remove adware/malware. Link: https://www.malwarebytes.org/antimalware/mac/
- Download, install, then open it. Start by running a full scan by clicking “Scan” button to remove adware.
- Once done, quit Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.