The internet is a fascinating global computer network that billions of people across the world utilize for a multitude of tasks. While the internet is an amazing tool, there are groups or individuals that pose a risk to the security of companies and individuals because they make use of the power of the internet for malicious actions. Common malicious software that many hackers use is called ransomware. Ransomware threatens to block, publish, or even delete a user’s data if a (usually obscene) amount of money, typically bitcoin is not paid at a specific time. There is a new method that these hackers are now using however called, cryptojacking. Cryptojacking is a new technique that has is being used in the wake of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies becoming more commonly known and accepted. The technique requires little to no technical skills and provides a larger payout then ransomware. The method of cryptojacking involves the user compromising and infecting a machine, where they can then use the processing power of the victim to mine cryptocurrency. This method is taking over ransomware and is progressively becoming become more common.
There is a considerable number of features that cryptojacking has that makes it a more attractive method to carry out malicious activity when compared to ransomware. One of the interesting things about cryptojacking is that a hacker can begin mining cryptocurrency on someone's device regardless of specifications, location, or operating system. The component can even be added to or can replace existing malware. This malicious component can be put in a variety of devices such as a phone, computer, server, and the cloud. What makes cryptojacking so crippling is the fact that because this component can be put into almost any device, this makes things such as brute force attacks or compromising someone’s information much easier. With cryptojacking, someone’s device could be exposed and used to mine by just visiting a website. Even pop-up ads and browser extensions could result in malicious activity on your computer and can allow hackers to mine cryptocurrency on your device.
However, cyrptojacking is not the end of the world, and has a solution as everything else does. The first thing you can do is take preventative action:
2. Use a strong antivirus like Avast that protects against cryptojacking by detecting all unsecure websites and blocking anything malicious, including cryptomining. (here is a link to a free antivirus https://www.avast.com/en-us/index)
3. Always make sure your Windows software is updated to prevent against vulnerabilites like EternalBlue which can be used to spread cryptomining attacks.
If you suspect that a cybercriminal may be using your device to mine, you can see and diagnose your device. If the device is a laptop or desktop computer, press control-alt-delete and select the ‘Start Task Manager” option. A window will open, and in the tabs at the top of that window, select ‘Performance’. This will show you how much your CPU usage is. If your usage is at 70% or higher and there are no streaming services open on your computer, there is a chance that malicious software is being used on your device. You may also be experiencing cooling fan failures from the excessive CPU usage. If you are suspicious that your device is being used for cyrptojacking, update and purge browser extensions. Update all the extensions and remove those not needed or that are infected.
Vigilant Technologies is a great resource in the preventative or resorative process in relation to cyrptojacking. We can do an assessment of the network! Contact us for an assessment with the information in our Contact tab.
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