Mining cryptocurrency requires a tremendous amount of power – both algorithmically and energetically. Successful miners have to purchase advanced equipment and pay high electricity costs, making it difficult to break into the industry with limited capital.
But that doesn’t stop people from getting creative with limited resources. Much like hacking into a restaurant’s Wi-Fi, some people have discovered that they can use your computer to mine cryptocurrency without your knowledge.
It’s called cryptojacking and it’s how hackers can use your computer, tablet or even smartphone to monetize your devices.
What is crypto jacking?
To mine cryptocurrency, you need to download software to your computer that is specifically designed to perform the complex algorithmic operations of a blockchain network. Cryptojacking is done in the same way, except that the program is installed on your computer by a hacker without your knowledge.
Since the software works as if it were on the hacker’s computer, the hacker receives all the mined coins without paying the associated electricity costs. And since the program can be installed on thousands of computers at once, it is essentially a supercomputer that is illegally mining.
Is cryptojacking common?
Compared to other forms of hacking, cryptojacking is considered rare, which is why it continues to spread without making headlines. However, it is increasing and spreading beyond personal computers. According to cybersecurity firm SonicWall, the targeting of the retail sector increased by 63% in the first half of 2022, while the financial sector saw a 269% increase.
One of the most recently discovered cryptojacking malware is Nitrokod, which is believed to have been around since 2019. It was hard to spot, as it goes through a multi-step process for about a month before it starts mining crypto. In this way, users of infected computers are not aware because the program runs in the background.
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How do you know if your computer is infected?
Since cryptocurrency mining is a resource-intensive process, you can suspect possible cryptojacking by taking note of several changes:
- Decreased performance – you will notice that your computer or device is running slower than usual. It may take a few more seconds to open or launch apps.
- overheated – whether you’re on a desktop or laptop, you’ll hear your computer’s fan spinning faster and your machine running hotter, even if you’re not running a resource-intensive program.
- High CPU/GPU Usage – check from your task manager which programs are using the most CPU/GPU allocation. You may see suspicious programs in this list.
What to do for victims of cryptojacking?
The first thing to do is to uninstall the cryptojacking software. In the list of programs or apps on your computer or device, find the programs or apps that you didn’t install intentionally and uninstall them immediately.
Then make sure to update your operating system and antivirus software to prevent future attacks. Finally, avoid downloading software from untrustworthy sources, including file-sharing sites that offer music, movies, etc. free.