Cryptojacking: What It Is and How to Safeguard Against It

Cryptojacking: What It Is and How to Safeguard Against It

Cryptojacking is a known fraudulent activity where a hacker gains unsanctioned access to unsuspecting victims’ computers and mine cryptocurrency. The hackers do this by tricking victims into clicking a link which automatically loads a crypto mining code on the computer, or by embedding a JavaScript code into a website or an online ad which auto-executes once it is loaded on the victims’ browser.

After gaining entry, the crypto mining code runs unnoticed in the background as the victims make use of their computers.

What Gives Cryptojacking Its Appeal?
Although the actual figures of how much cryptocurrency is mined through cryptojacking are unknown, there’s no denying that the act is widespread. The hack doesn’t even require substantial technical skills. The kits for cryptojacking are readily available on the dark web for as little as $30.

The most basic reason for the increase in popularity of cryptojacking is the appeal of “more money for less risk”.

How Cryptojacking is Carried Out
There are two basic ways hackers secretly gain access to a victim’s computer and mine cryptocurrencies.

The first method is to con the victim into loading a cryptomining code onto their computers. This is done through a method called phishing, which involves sending an authentic-looking email that encourages the victim to click on a link. The link once clicked, would automatically run a code that installs the cryptomining script on the computer and functions in the background as the victim works.

The other method is to embed a script onto a website or an ad and is distributed to multiple websites. Immediately a victim visits the webpage or the infected ad pops up on their browser, the script gets executed automatically. The code runs complex algorithms on the victims’ computer and transmits the results to a server controlled by the hacker.

How to Safeguard Yourself Against Cryptojacking
Here are a few practical steps to safeguard oneself from cryptojacking:

1- Integrate cryptojacking as a threat in your security awareness training, concentrating on phishing attacks.

2- Download or install ad blockers or anti-crypto mining extensions onto your web browsers.

3- Acquire endpoint security protocols that can detect known crypto miners.

4- Ensure that your filtering tools are updated regularly.

5- Maintain browser extensions.

How to Identify Cryptojacking
Detecting when you’re being cryptojacked can be difficult. It is not advisable to rely solely on your existing endpoint security tools to prevent cryptojacking. Here are some additional steps you could take:

1- Deploy a network monitoring solution.

2- Examine your websites for cryptomining code.

3- Stay updated with cryptojacking trends.

How to Handle a Cryptojacking Event
Let’s say you finally end up getting cryptojacked, what do you do then? Here are some recommendations to help you through such times:

1- Terminate and block website-delivered scripts.

2- Erase and update browser extensions.

3- Learn from the experience and adapt.

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Author : Azeez Mustapha

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Azeez Mustapha is an experienced author, trader, markets analyst, signals strategist, and funds-manager.