Introduction 

Cryptojacking has the capability of affecting your whole business activity. The company and its IT team need to be extremely vigilant and practice caution since the codes in crypto-mining scripts can easily evade detection.

In this article let us look at:

  1. Definition
  2. How Cryptojacking works?
  3. Why is Crypto-Jacking popular?
  4. Real-world examples of Crypto-jacking
  5. How to prevent Crypto-jacking?

1. Definition

“Cryptojacking is defined as the surreptitious and unauthorized use of a computer for its technological resources and power-demanding requirements of cryptocurrency mining, the attack of which gives rise to a crypto mining robot, and the attacker may coopt several computer systems to create a botnet.”

2. How Cryptojacking works?

A criminal/hacker secretly uses a person’s computing power to generate Crypto-currency. This usually takes place when the user unwillingly installs a program from the internet with malicious software scripts that allow cybercriminals to access their computer or other internet-connected devices. For example, by clicking on an unknown link in an e-mail or visiting an infected website. 

Programs called “Coin Miners” are then used to create or ‘mine’ cryptocurrencies. As they are digital currencies, only computer programs and computer power are needed to create crypto-currencies. The most prominent type among them is called Monero. The hackers can hijack the computer resources and harm the users with increased response time, higher CPU usage, overheating of computer devices, and dearer electricity bills. The cybercriminals then siphon these currencies into their personal digital payment wallets by using such hijacked computers.

Crypto-jacking first came to the spotlight in September 2017. At about the same time, Bitcoin was mounting at its record-high values. Crypto-jacking came out in the later months of 2017 when bitcoin was mounting high. The very first known crypto-jacking service Coinhive was a set of JavaScript files offering website owners a new innovative way to earn money from their regular and new visitors. Coinhive can use the computer resources of users and visitors to mine crypto-currency for the site’s owner.

The hackers would exploit the vulnerabilities in some of the few specific websites to drain the resources of visitors’ devices in a hidden way. They would also mine crypto-currency to their self crypto-currency wallets. In March 2019, Coinhive terminated its services permanently, but smaller versions of its software still remain in use. According to one of the recent posts from Forbes, cryptojacking is now more prevalent than the earlier most feared cyber attack method, ransomware attacks. 

To conclude, the rise in the popularity of cryptojacking is due to these two primary reasons:

1) Crypojacking software doesn’t have to establish a command and link with control to the attacker, and

2) Loss of processing cycles for the victim which may be lost anyway due to their non-utilization.

4. Real-world examples of Crypto-jacking

In February, it was found out that Tesla Inc. had become the victim of cryptojacking when its Amazon Web Services software container was hacked by miscreants. There have been many similar cryptojacking attacks reported on companies since October 2017. Hackers are more resistant to the more famous type of cryptocurrency – “BITCOIN” while, on the other hand, they catch hold of more vulnerable cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash. They indulge in such illegal activities since it is almost impossible to track back to them on these weaker platforms. 

On the cold days of December 2017, the next future generation of thieves – “Bank Robbers 2.0” made away with a whopping 2000 pounds of gold biscuit equivalent bitcoins, which added up to about US$64 million, from Nicehash, one of the prominent mining marketplace. The fun part here was that they didn’t have to worry about transporting the stolen money, escaping from the scene of the crime, or blowing things up, or getting caught by the police. 

In February 2018, a Spanish firm dealing in cybersecurity called “Panda”, incepted a cryptojacking script called wannamine infected many computer systems across the world. This malware was used to mine “Monero”, a type of cryptocurrency that possesses the risk of enabling the hackers to help mine cryptocurrencies using the CPUs and also have values in fiat terms.

Later the same month, Britain, the US, and Canada’s governments were faced with a cryptojacking attack that 

5. How to prevent Crypto-jacking?

1) Get the right technology in place.

  • Synchronized Security – Get visibility of 100% of apps on your network so you can make an informed choice on what to block or allow.
  • Firewall – Block cryptojacking malware at the gateway. Take sufficient care to block the websites that host miners through JavaScript.
  • Endpoint – Block the exploit techniques used to spread Crypto-currencies malware.
  • Server – Use application control to limit what can run on the server.
  • Mobile – Avoid installing malicious and risk-prone apps on your personal devices.

2) Keep your devices patched and minimize the risks of exploits.

3) Maintain a strong password policy.

4) Use mobile management technology.

5) Educate your staff. Crypto-mining is not an acceptable use of your computer’s resources. 

6) Install an ad-blocker.

Conclusion

Compute power is considered to be the main source of money for many cryptojackers. “Crypto-jackers are the wittiest of cybercriminals. Security teams need to be exceptionally intelligent to outsmart them.”

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

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