An illegal act of mining cryptocurrencies on computers without owner’s permission, has been on the rise since the prices cryptocurrencies began spiking towards end of last year. The process involves stealing computational power from system to execute the algorithms that are involved in cryptocurrency mining.

Cryptocurrency is digital currency that exist on a blockchain, which is an encrypted digital ledger that securely keeps track of the order of transactions between computers. The currency mining process is energy-intensive and stealing the energy from systems across the globe has been the modus operandi of cryptojackers.

Cryptomining works by embedding a JavaScript component in website, which can leverage a visiting system/device processing power to mine a cryptocurrency. Each visitor might only do a tiny bit of mining, but every user lending some hash power over time can generate real power and hence dollars for cybercriminals. Most importantly, the system owners might not even notice this change. Based on the research carried towards end of last year, 200+ websites were launching mining when a user opens their homepage with an audience of 500 million users. Another fact which was known via research was that more than half of the websites engaged in using in-browser cryptocurrency mining scripts focus on 4 countries namely USA, Russia, India, Brazil.

Detecting Cryptojacking

The easiest way to find out, if your system is being used to mine cryptocurrency is to periodically monitor CPU utilization via resource manager. In case CPU spikes are abnormally high while none of the applications and browsers are opened, it could be a crypto mining malware situation.

Preventing Cryptojacking

Follow the mentioned steps for blocking cryptocurrency mining on your system:

  • For Chrome browser, enable No Coin and minerBlock extensions. These programs enhance the functionality of the web browser and block miners.
  • For Firefox browser, utilize NoScript extension block JavaScript.
  • Use Ad blockers effectively.
  • Check with AV vendor for blacklisting websites, which are part of cryptomining network.

Cryptojacking will be one of the top cybercrime activities in this year and may be beyond if the gold-rush continues for cybercriminals.

By:- Sapan Talwar