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Why Cryptojacking is Dangerous Even if You Don't Own Crypto

Tuesday, 09 August 2022, 19:32 IST
By SiliconIndia

Why Cryptojacking is Dangerous Even if You Don't Own Crypto

Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm. From Bitcoin to Ethereum, these “coins” have quickly become the scene for investors who look to profit from the volatile crypto markets. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert when it comes to cryptocurrencies, you are likely aware of the risks that you take when investing in crypto.

But there are other risks that you need to be aware of when it comes to cryptocurrencies - cryptojacking. The scary thing is that you don’t even have to be involved with any cryptocurrencies or even be aware of them to fall victim to this scam. 

It’s important to be aware of this threat that could target anyone at any time. Keep reading to find out more about cryptojacking and how it works. Luckily this article isn’t all about fear-mongering, and you’ll also be given details on how you can protect your devices and prevent yourself from falling victim to crypto-jacking.

What is Cryptojacking

Before we can fully understand what cryptojacking is, we first need to dive into how cryptocurrencies are created — this information is essential to understanding how cryptojacking works! 

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies are created through a process known as mining. Crypto mining is done using a device’s CPU — this can be anything from a laptop to a smartphone. However, because these devices don’t have a lot of processing power, they often mine much slower than the dedicated crypto mining hardware that costs thousands of dollars.

Mining is when the device’s CPU is used to solve complex equations on the blockchain, which is essentially transactions being verified. As a reward for solving these equations, the device’s owner is rewarded with crypto. For example, if you use your smartphone to mine Bitcoin you will be given Bitcoin in return for lending your processing power. This is essentially the incentive behind mining crypto, and it’s also how new coins are made — think of it like printing money. Instead of a printing press, cryptocurrencies use different devices all around the world.

This is where cryptojacking comes in. Cryptojacking is when a cybercriminal uses your device to mine crypto coins for them. In other words, they will be using your device’s processing power to make money for themselves. There are two main ways that they can do so:

  • Hackers can inject a cryptojacking script onto your device by using basic phishing techniques such as illegitimate links and malware.

  • Cybercriminals can place a cryptojacking script onto a website, which will cause every device that visits the website to start crypto mining.

If you’re wondering why cryptojacking is dangerous for your device, you’ll see why in the next section. Not only does it affect your device, but you’ll also have a cybercriminal on your device without your knowledge, which leaves the door open for other crimes such as fraud and identity theft to be committed.

How to Spot Cryptojacking

Spotting cryptojacking on your device is becoming more and more difficult. Cybercriminals are incredibly skilled at hiding cryptojacking and other forms of malware on the victim’s device. Of course, the longer the cryptojacking script remains on the device, the longer the hacker can profit from it, so they will be doing their best to hide it. But luckily there are some red flags that you can keep an eye out for:

  • Slower hardware performance - crypto mining uses a ton of processing power which makes the device slower. If your device is running noticeably slower than usual without any good explanation, there’s a good chance that it is being used to mine crypto without your consent. However, keep in mind that all devices become slower with age, and a slow device could also be a sign of other forms of malware such as viruses.

  • Check your task manager - checking the task manager is not something that’s become a habit for anyone using a laptop. But, this can be a good way to identify cryptojacking on your device. If you open your task manager and find an unknown program running in the background, it’s likely to be malware of some form, so it’s a good idea to get rid of it quickly.

  • Check your browser icon - some forms of cryptojacking require the browser to stay open for the process to continue. These will be designed to open your browser or force it to stay open even after you have closed it to ensure that your device can continue mining. If you find that your browser is acting up, make sure to check for any cryptojacking scripts or unknown extensions.

  • Check your electricity bill - minging crypto will cause your device to work harder and use more electricity. This means that your laptop or smartphone’s battery will drain faster, or your desktop will be using more electricity. Either way, if you see an unexplained spike in your electricity bill, one of your devices is likely being cryptojacked.

Important Steps to Stay Safe

Even if you know what signs to look out for, cryptojacking can be incredibly difficult to spot. That’s why you need to make sure you have the right safety net in place to keep your devices safe from any malware that they might come across.

The best cybersecurity tool to invest in is premium antivirus software. Antivirus software will constantly scan your devices for any viruses or other forms of malware — depending on what the software can recognize in its library. Once the malware has been detected on your device, it can be removed from your device before it causes any further damage.

It’s always a good idea to invest in premium antivirus software that offers additional features such as the ability to scan emails and links for potential phishing scams. Antivirus software can also warn you if you visit a malicious website, which is one of the ways that cryptojacking will use your device to start mining. 

Ultimately, prevention is better than cure, so make sure to put the right security parameters in place before it’s too late!