Cryptojacking – How to Detect and Prevent Hackers from Mining Bitcoin on Your Computer

Cryptojacking is a serious threat to your personal computer. Hackers use it to enslave your machine and force it to mine cryptocurrencies on their behalf. It is an almost seamless attack on your device that can transform it into an unknowing tool for cybercriminals everywhere. Fortunately, there are easy ways to detect cryptojacking attacks in […]

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Cryptojacking is a serious threat to your personal computer. Hackers use it to enslave your machine and force it to mine cryptocurrencies on their behalf. It is an almost seamless attack on your device that can transform it into an unknowing tool for cybercriminals everywhere.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to detect cryptojacking attacks in time. There are also safe ways to prevent cryptojacking and to make your computer impervious to it.

In this article, we are looking at all the solutions for cryptojacking that you can employ to keep crypto hackers at bay.

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is the practice of taking unauthorized control of a computer and using its computing power for cryptocurrency mining purposes.

There are more than 3,000 cryptocurrencies out there, out of which Bitcoin and Ethereum stand out as the most popular ones. Users can “mine” for both of them by using computing power. Most legitimate miners use supercomputers, also known as ASICS, and generally as part of a farming facility that holds hundreds of such machines.

However, as it is the case with all financial assets, there are illegal ways of obtaining cryptocurrency, and one of them is cryptojacking.

Through cryptojacking, cybercriminals install malware on personal or business computers. Once they reach the machine’s security system, they install a cryptomining protocol that silently mines for specific crypto in the background. Every block that it successfully adds to the blockchain results in valuable tokens, which the chain sends directly to the hacker’s digital wallet.

Throughout this time, the victim of cryptojacking is not aware of the attack. Users generally notice a massive slowing down of the computer’s performance but rarely do they suspect a cryptojacking attack to be behind it.

Types of Cryptojacking Attacks

Hackers use various types of cryptojacking into personal computers. Most of the time, they do so with the involuntary help of the users, who are naive or unaware of the threat.

Here are the most common cryptojacking attacks:

Cloud cryptojacking

Cloud storage and facilities are popular with numerous businesses and regular users nowadays. Unfortunately, they are popular targets for cybercriminals as well. By using malicious software, they infiltrate computers and networks that use cloud technology. Then, they proceed to hack the API keys that give access to the cloud.

Once they hack inside the cloud, cryptohackers get hold of immense mining power that they use to obtain digital assets without the knowledge of the users.

Email cryptojacking

Ever since it’s initial introduction to the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, the email has been the hackers’ favorite vehicle for remote scams and security attacks.

In the age of cryptocurrency, the email remains a reliable hacking tool. Cybercriminals send users emails while mimicking a company that they trust. Inside the message, they plant a cryptomining code that installs on the receiving computers when the users click on it.

Website cryptojacking

Another method of cryptojacking involves pop-ads on websites. Hackers install a cryptomining code behind them, and when users click on them, the code automatically downloads and starts running on their computer. Sometimes, they even hide the code in WordPress plugins that have recently gone through a software update.

How Cryptojacking Works

Cryptojacking works as a silent method of taking control of your computer for illegal cryptocurrency mining. In most cases, the hackers use the same sequence of attack:

  1. They penetrate your computer’s security system through malware hidden in emails, pop-up ads or cloud software
  2. The malware installs a mining code on the computer that runs in the background
  3. The code uses the computing resources of the machine to mine for cryptocurrency on a specific blockchain
  4. The rewards that result from the silent mining go directly to the cybercriminal’s digital wallet

Signs That Your Computer Has Been Cryptojacked

Besides the obvious security threat that cryptojacking poses, this hack attack comes with additional problems for the victim, such as:

  • A severe slowing down of the computer’s performance
  • A costly energy bill
  • The compromising of an entire network of computers when the target is a business computer

Before all of these consequences become visible, you should notice some clear signs that your computer has been cryptojacked, such as:

  • The system struggles to complete even the most basic functions
  • The device overheats quickly
  • The CPU usage is constantly high

Also, if you use the computer for website development, you may notice coding changes on your websites, typically in WordPress plugins.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is usually a hit-and-run attack and a short-term cybercrime. Generally, you can detect it easily before it gets out of hand. However, you would like to take the necessary steps to avoid it long before your computer is secretly mining for Bitcoin in the background.

Here are the easiest ways to prevent cryptojacking:

  1. Install a high-performance security protocol on your system
  2. Check for malware frequently
  3. Use browser extensions that block hidden mining codes
  4. Install ad-blockers on your browsers
  5. Disable JavaScript

Last, but not least, if you run a company that connects its computers through an internal network or cloud technology, you should stay alert to cryptojacking attacks. Ensure that your employees are aware of the threat. Instruct them not to click on suspicious links in emails or on pop-up ads on websites.

Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the fight against cryptojacking. Upgrade your anti-malware system regularly to maintain your devices safe from unauthorized cryptocurrency mining. Cybercriminals do not waste time in coming up with new and efficient hacking methods. When it comes to protecting your computer against them, neither should you.

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