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The Rise of Cryptojacking

Luminous▼SovereignMay 24, 2018, 11:26:49 AM

A new trend in hacking is the most profitable hacking scheme devised yet. It's called cryptojacking. This is hijacking the computation resources of users and using it to mine for crytocurrency. An unwitting participant has their CPU used to mine cryptocurrency for someone else. This costs the victim money in electricity for the CPU power usage, while the hacker doesn't have to pay and reaps the mining rewards.

For those who don't understand how some crpytocurrencies are created, it's done by using CPU power to perform cryptographic calculations. People compete to be the fastest at mining cryptographic blocks and get the be the winner. In order to be a winner who gets the reward, more CPU power is needed to be the fastest at it.

That's where cryptojacking comes in. If you get jacked to mine for someone, you help them with your CPU power to be a winner and get a reward. Your hardware and electricity is helping them make money.

You can get your computer resource hijacked by visiting certain websites or installing malware like extension in your browser. A website can also get attacked and turn into a profit generator for hackers. Hackers have recently shifter their attention to this easier for of exploitation for money, instead of the previous threat of ransomware.

Ransomware is worse as it locks you out of your computer until you pay the ransom that they hacker demands. This could be thousands of millions of dollars. It's been don to individuals and organizations like hospital and government agencies. Cryptojacking is bad, but not as bad. You don't know you're being used and having your electricity stolen from you, whereas ransomware is like having someone point a gun at you and pay up or else.

The main types of cryptojacking are:

  1. mining malware is unknowingly installed by tricking the user
  2. visit a webpage that has a script to run browser software that mines

Websites that have ads placed can also be affected by injected cryptomining scripts in the ad network which then serve ads to visitors on the page. Clicking the ad runs the script through the browser and the mining begins.

Unless you notice the CPU usage has gone up, you won't know your hardware and electricity is paying for other people to mine cryptocurrencies.

Not all crypto-mining from the browser is bad. Sites can ask users to allow cryptocurrency mining for the website to generate revenue while they view the content they came for. Salon.com has started doing this as a way to opt out of displaying ads. A UNIEF charity has also done similar by asking people to share their CPU power to mine cryptocurrency.

Browser extension are also a vector for cryptojacking. Google has recently banned all cryptomining extensions from the chrome store as a full spectrum measure to stop any cryptomining being done from the browser, regardless of it being in secret as cryptojacking or user-accepted.

To easily safeguard yourself, you can install No Coin from the google webstore to make sure no one is using your computer to min cryptocurrencies without you knowing about it. Also, if your computer seems to be running slow, check your task manager to see if your browser or some other program is using most of your CPU power. End the process of the program if you see something that shouldn't be taking up that much CPU power. Then do some research on the program that is taking up all those resources to learn how to remove it.

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