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Cryptojacking – Definition, Prevention, and Detection

Cryptojacking in simpler words is the way for the hackers to use your computer to mine cryptocurrencies without you having any idea about it. Here’s all you need to know this new trend in hacking.

Cryptojacking, as the name suggests, is related to jacking up the cryptocurrencies. It is the term, given to the unauthorized use of someone’s computer system to mine cryptocurrencies.

Mining of cryptocurrencies is on the rise since the introduction of BitCoin, the most famous cryptocurrency. And with the high volatility of cryptocurrencies, everyone is looking to have their fair share of cryptocurrencies. Same is with the hackers.

Hackers use cryptojacking to infect a victim’s computer by either provoking the victim to click on a malicious link that executes crypto-mining code on the computer or by infecting a website or online ads with an auto-executable JavaScript code that infects victim’s browser.

Either way, the crypto-mining code doesn’t harm the victim’s computer in any major way except slowing down the performance or lagging while execution of any command.

How to prevent Cryptojacking

You can prevent your organization and your computer system from the attack of cryptojacking in the following ways:

  1. Security Awareness Training

Phishing is the most common and primary method for the hackers to deliver the malware of all types.

Training your employees about the threats of cryptojacking and the phishing-type attempts that load crypto-mining scripts onto user’s computers will help protect you when technical solutions might fail.

But it sometimes becomes less effective as it is almost impossible to tell the users/employees which websites not to visit.

  1. Anti-crypto mining extensions

Another way to deliver the cryptojacking scripts is through web ads.

Installing an ad-blocker extension on your browser can help in preventing the cryptojacking attack in an effective way.

There are several ad blockers available, of which AdBlock and Adblock Plus are the most popular and effective ones.

Apart from the common ad blockers, extensions like No Coin and minerBlock are specifically designed to detect and block crypto-mining scripts.

  1. Endpoint Protection

Antivirus software or endpoint protection is one of the ways to detect and remove the malicious cryptojacking scripts.

Many antivirus software vendors like Avast, Norton etc. have added crypto-miner detection to their products.

Just keep in mind, that crypto-miners keep changing their techniques and methods to avoid being detected at the endpoint.

  1. Web-filtering Tools

If any web page is identified as affected by cryptojacking scripts, organizations must make sure that users are blocked from accessing that page again.

  1. Browser Extensions

Some hackers attack the weak browser extensions or corrupt legitimate extensions to execute crypto-mining scripts on browsers.

How to detect Cryptojacking

Like any other ransomware, cryptojacking may affect the depths of your organization despite your best possible efforts to stop it.

Detection of cryptojacking becomes difficult if only a few systems are compromised. Crypto-mining tools have the ability to bypass signature-based tools, so desktop antivirus tools or endpoint protect tools are not sufficient enough to stop cryptojacking.

Here are other ways that will work:

  1. Training Help Desk

The first and primary symptom of cryptojacking is slower computer performance. If there is a spike in help desk complaints regarding the same, this calls for an immediate investigation of cryptojacking.

Other symptoms or complaints that help desk should consider might be overheating systems, which may lead to CPU or cooling fan failures.

Excessive CPU usage may often cause the overheating which damages and reduce the lifecycle of devices. Thin mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are especially prone to overheating issues.

  1. Network Monitoring

Cryptojacking is easily detectable on a corporate network that it is on a home network as the consumer endpoint solutions are not capable enough to detect it.

It is easy to detect cryptojacking through network monitoring solutions, which most corporate organization are equipped with.

However, not all the organizations have the tools and capabilities to accurately analyze the information and data provided by the network motoring tools for definitive detection of cryptojacking.

Network monitoring is still the best bet to detect cryptojacking activity. Network monitoring reviews all web traffic, which provides a better chance at detecting crypto-miners.

  1. Monitoring own websites

Crypto-jackers are always on the move to find new places to upload the crypto-mining scripts. There may be a chance that your web server is their newest target, though the ultimate target is to affect anyone visiting the website itself.

Regularly monitoring the file changes on the web server or the changes on the pages will safeguard your website from cryptojacking and affecting the website’s visitors’ system.

  1. Staying up-to-date on cryptojacking trends

There is a continuous evolvement in crypto-mining code and its delivery methods. Sound understanding of the software and their behaviors can help you in detecting cryptojacking.

A savvy organization would like to stay up-to-date with what’s happening. Understanding the delivery mechanism of these types of things will let you detect exactly where the crypto-stuff is being delivered and to counter it with the appropriate measures.

Protecting the exploited areas will protect you against the infections of the crypto-mining malware.

Conclusion

There are a few ways by which you can counter-attack to a cryptojacking attack and safeguard your systems from further infection.

When the crypto-mining script is detected in a browser, simply kill the browser tab that is running the script. The affected URL must be provided to the IT help desk so that they can update the company’s web filters to block it. Anti-crypto mining tools must be employed to prevent future attacks.

If the attack comes from an extension in the browser, quickly update all the extensions and remove which are unused or infected.

Use the experience to understand how the attackers are able to compromise your systems. Educate the user and help desk with proper IT training so that they become proficient in identifying the cryptojacking attempts and respond accordingly.


Ashish Sharma is the Chief Marketing Officer at WeDigTech, a Mobile App Development Company. He is responsible for marketing activities that have to do with creating, communicating and delivering offerings that have value for clients or business partners.

Cryptojacking – Definition, Prevention, and Detection

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