Are you aware of the threat from Cryptojacking?

by | Jul 9, 2019 | Article

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is the unauthorised use of an internet-connected device by cyber criminals to mine cryptocurrency, particularly Monero (XMR) an alternative to Bitcoin. Its popularity rose dramatically in 2017 when the price of Bitcoin rose 16-fold in the space of a year. 


How is Cryptojacking deployed?

Like most computer viruses, cyber criminals have you unknowingly download a small piece of script/malware to begin harvesting your devices processing power to mine cryptocurrency. The most obvious way of distributing this script is through a malicious email with a seemingly harmless link or attachment. However, what makes Cryptojacking particularly popular amongst criminals is the ability to carry it out through browser-based code, without the need for the end-user/victim to do anything but visit a particular website.


What are the symptoms of Cryptojacking?

  • Sudden rise in processor usage on your device
  • Slow response time from your device
  • Overheating of your device


How can you protect against Cryptojacking?

Any anti-virus worth its salt will help protect you from Cryptojacking, and browser based addons such as ad-blockers will protect you ever further. However, the threat is not limited to workstations. Mobile phones and tablets are also at risk. Organisations can protect all devices that connect to their network through the use of DNS-level solutions such as Cisco Umbrella.

As with any cyber threat, educating your users is also key. If you staff are aware of the threat and its symptoms then they might just be able to spot it. Users should be especially suspicious of emails with attachments and dubious links.


Is Cryptojacking still a threat in 2019?

Browser-based Cryptojacking arose as a legitimate means of monetising websites. Services like CoinHive offered website owners an alternative to banner advertisements by allowing them to mine Monero using their end-users processing power. Many websites were quick to abuse this service and those that did comply with the law usually hid their opt-in procedure in their privacy policy (that the vast majority of users would agree to without reading).

In March 2019, CoinHive closed its doors after much abuse of its platform and immense pressure from cyber security firms. Some experts, including Jerome Segura of Malwarebytes, hailed this as the start-of-the-end for Cryptojacking, but others are less confident. The closure of CoinHive has created a power vacuum in the Cryptojacking market place. Alternatives such as Cryptoloot and XMRig are taking their place, providing a very similar service.

Time will tell whether Cryptojacking will remain a significant source of income for cyber criminals, but it is unlikely they will be ignoring the recent growth in cryptocurrency value. The best thing you can do is take the necessary precautions. And remember, Lynx Networks are always here to help you protect your network from attack.

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