Cryptocurrency is undoubtedly one of the best things in the cyber world. However, it comes with baggage. With the rise of cryptocurrency usage, the problems of cryptojacking are also rapidly on the rise.
These attacks have spread like wildfire, infecting several people and organizations worldwide. Even the Australian government faced cryptojacking attacks during February 2018. In such dire circumstances, it is better to perk up the safety.
This guide gives you an insight into how to prevent cryptojacking. It throws light on:
- What is cryptojacking?
- What are cryptocurrencies?
- How does cryptojacking works?
- The face of a cryptojacking attack.
- How to stay secure?
The kick start to basic is as follows:
What is Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is a form of cyber attack in which the attacker hacks into a device and runs the cryptocurrency mining software on the victim’s hardware. He hacks into the equipment and goes through with the necessary steps required to update the cryptocurrency blockchain.
The attackers use the tokens and fees created in the process while the victim is left behind with nothing more than high CPU usage and a hefty electricity bill. Like other online attacks, the purpose behind cryptojacking is to gain profits.
Hackers performing cryptojacking are essentially sneaky. The attacks occur through browsers and can infect every kind of device let it be smartphones, laptops or PCs.
Cryptojacking is a complex process and requires high energy usage which is why attackers perform it by hacking into other devices. This way he gets the profits without paying the bills.
With this put up into consideration, cryptojacking looks out to be a relatively harmless attack. The max it does is hog up CPU usage and electricity. At least it doesn’t strip you of your money or breach your privacy!
What are Cryptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrency is the currency of the cyber world! In it, encryption techniques are used to regulate the units f currency. Furthermore, it uses cryptography as a security measure which makes it difficult to counterfeit.
The main allure around cryptocurrencies is that any specific central authority doesn’t issue it. This makes it aloof of any manipulation or tracing. The first block chain cryptocurrency is Bitcoin which stays famous till today.
Cryptocurrencies are an effective alternative to regular currencies. The most famous bitcoin used until now is Bitcoin. Its other minor options are bitcoin cash, either, litecoin, ripple, and dash.
How does cryptojacking work?
Mining for crypto coins can be a hefty task. The amount of time and the resources required make it a difficult task to go through. The need for a highly equipped computer device along with increased electricity bills due to high energy consumption are the boulders to coin mining path.
The time, energy and resources required to mine coins are what attracts criminals towards cryptojacking. There are several ways by which a cryptojacking attack can be performed such as:
1. Malware attacks
It is the most popular method of sending out a cryptojacking attack. Malicious emails are sent to a victim that activate the cryptojacking code upon opening up.
Another way is that the victim receives an email from a seemingly trusted party with the malicious link or an attachment in it. As soon as the victims click on the link or downloads the attachment received, the crypto mining script gets downloaded.
This script then runs in the background without the victim having any knowledge of its presence. In this way, the attacker efficiently uses the victim’s computer as well as energy resources while gaining profits in the process.
2. Cryptojacking through public cloud
Public cloud provides the perfect opportunity for hackers to perform cryptojacking attacks. Once an attacker manages to infiltrate into your public cloud it sneakily proceeds to channel your resources.
It may delete or flog your logs to cover its traps and avoid detection. To make the attack more successful, with the right tools the attacker may attempt to lock you out of your account to prevent any hindrances in the process.
3. Browser attacks
Another method to carry out cryptojacking attacks is through browsers. The attackers hack into sites that generate high traffic. The script is injected into the website, or multiple ads are uploaded there.
The victim, once he visits the website activates the script. It may be enabled just by visiting the particular site or by clicking or viewing a specific pop-up advertisement. During this, no specific code is stored in the victim’s computer.
The complex mathematical calculation makes up the code. These calculations run in the background and send the result to a server controlled by the hacker. The victim is oblivious of its presence, and this method allows this process to be sneaky.
Picture a cryptojacking attack paints:
Cryptojacking is rapidly on the rise these days. Now there may be various ways available to protect yourself from it, but the first issue with a cryptojacking attack is that it is particularly sneaky. You could be a victim of the attack and would remain oblivious to it.
However, there still are firm indications of being under the attack. No matter how elementary they are, there still is something you can hold on to such as:
- Increased CPU usage
- High battery drain
- Slow response time
Apart from these reasonably primary indications, there are some other factors you can ponder upon.
1. Loss of data
If a cryptojacking attack occurs through the cloud services, the resources get used up, and the victim ends up facing a huge bill to pay up for crypto mining. To prevent this from happening the service providers set up a strict limit for each cloud account.
Once the account reaches its limit, it stops saving any further data. To prevent any disruptions in crypto mining, some attacks are designed to delete previously collected data. So if you suddenly face data loss in your cloud storage, then there are high chances that you were a victim!
2. Snail pace website loading
One method cryptojacking used by attackers is by injecting the mining software into a website. It makes the website page loading exceedingly slow. It could drive away from the site visitors, shoppers or generally the audience trying to visit your website.
At times the attackers intentionally add up a delay. This allows him to suck up more resources while the visitor waits for the web page to load.
3. Increased resource cost
A cryptojacking attack requires the use of highly equipped resources. For the attacker to carry forward the attack, he needs excellent energy resources.
Although a cryptojacking attack may seem harmless in general, it could lead to the victim facing high electricity or the cloud service provider bill.
Furthermore, for mining coins, the attacker entails high CPU and GPU usage. This could further cause damage to the hardware and add up to the cost of damage repair.
How to prevent cryptojacking:
Crytojacking is as mentioned above is a very sneaky tactic. The thought that the victim remains unaware of its happenings is what makes it alarming. However, with close observation, we still can somewhat detect.
But this is risky! And as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Therefore it is best to work up on ways to protect yourself. Here are some safety measures you can take up to protect yourself:
1. Install ad blocking software
Cryptojacking scripts are mostly delivered through pop-ups or advertisements on websites. Installing an ad blocked cab be an effective method to prevent against cryptojacking. Some ad blockers come pre-equipped with anti-crypto mining extensions.
MinerBlock and No Coin is known to be the best extensions. They are known to block out crypto mining attacks effectively.
2. Use end-point protection
Endpoint protection is a method that allows antivirus/ antimalware software to run in the background. This software doesn’t let a virus or other malicious entities to enter into the computer.
Some antivirus/ antimalware software comes fully equipped with cryptojacking software which is a bonus. However, it is essential to keep the software updates as the miners are continually changing their endpoint techniques.
3. Look out for browser extensions
A browser extension is a minor software that runs alongside a browser to add up more functionality to it. These extensions are often referred to as plugins. It is crucial to maintain this extension as at times the miners exploit them.
Some attackers may poison legitimate plugins to carry out a crypto-mining attack. Another tactic these attackers use id that they create malicious browser extensions and fool the victim into using them to carry out cryptojacking attacks.
However, one downside to this is that it will have an impact on the overall web performance. Most of the sites will not give an excellent view.
Cryptojacking although may seem harmless but is yet an attack. This is why it is better to steer clear of it. Now that you are fully aware of its dangers it is better to equip yourself with every bit of protective measure against it.