Cryptojacking: All You Need To Know

Cryptojacking is a form of cyber crimer in which the computing resources of another party are used to mine cryptocurrency. Cryptojacking, also known as fraudulent crypto mining, allows hackers to mine cryptocurrency without having to pay for electricity, hardware, or other mining resources.

Cryptojacking malware frequently infects devices via traditional phishing techniques. It can also embed itself in websites and then run in the web browser of a victim when they visit that site. Computers, laptops, phones, servers, and cloud infrastructures are all targets for cryptojackers. They target everyone from ordinary users to government agencies all over the world.

What Is Cryptojacking?

The process of creating cryptocurrencies is known as “mine.” Miners compete by striving to be the first to resolve mathematical problems. The miner who solves the puzzle first receives cryptocurrency, and the value is recorded on the blockchain. 

The blockchain is a ledger that adds blocks to a chain as users create, spend, and transfer new money. Blockchain technology is a lengthy chain of data that is used to monitor cryptocurrencies, determining who owns them and how much it is worth. 

Miners require significant computing resources to be the first to solve a mathematical problem. Prior to the popularity of cryptocurrency, a home user on a desktop with a powerful video card could mine cryptocurrency;

However, large mining farms are now required to generate cryptocurrency at a high enough frequency to compensate the miner for his time and the electricity cost to run the equipment. 

How Does Cryptojacking Work?

Using a cluster of computers with groups of people and sharing the earnings is a legal approach to mining cryptocurrencies. In a Cryptojacking attack, an attacker employs malware or malicious JavaScript sites to mine for the attacker on third-party computers. 

Malware installed on a user’s computer will mine bitcoin in the background and transmit it to the attacker’s account. Local malware is far more persistent than JavaScript attacks since it must be removed from the machine before it can be stopped. 

JavaScript assaults make use of the computational capabilities of users who are connected to a web page. The computer resources are released once the web page is closed.

The mechanics and steps involved in the Cryptojacking process includes:

Cryptojackers compromise an asset in order to embed crypto mining script: Cryptojackers compromise an asset by embedding crypto mining code. 

Crypto mining script execution: Once embedded, cryptojackers wait for victims to run the script. The crypto mining script is executed and run when users click on an attachment or link, or visit a website with infected ads. 

Cryptomining begins: After being executed without the user’s knowledge, the crypto mining script runs in the background.

Algorithm solving: The crypto mining script uses computer power to solve complex algorithms in order to mine a block. These blocks are added to a blockchain, which is a database that stores cryptocurrency information. 

Receiving a cryptocurrency reward: Every time a new block is added to the chain, hackers are rewarded with cryptocurrency coins without having to do much work or take any risks. Cryptojackers are rewarded in cryptocurrency, which they can easily add anonymously to their digital wallets.

What Are The Types of Cryptoacking?

Cryptojacking is classified into two types. The first is based on infecting the web browser, while the second is based on host-based methods. 

Browser cryptojacking

The browser-based approach works by creating content that, when a user visits the webpage hosting it, automatically runs cryptomining software in their web browser. Drive-by cryptomining is another name for this method. 

Cryptojackers may create a website with embedded cryptomining JavaScript code and direct traffic to it for Cryptojacking purposes, or they may compromise an existing site. 

Existing websites can be compromised by programmatic advertising, which contains malware that places ads on websites automatically. This is done without the website owner’s knowledge, and they have little control over whether or not the software runs on their site.

Compromised ads can be placed on a website as pop-unders, which are designed to hide beneath windows that are already open on a victim’s computer or phone in order to avoid detection. This type of malware employs domain generation algorithms to circumvent ad blockers and serve advertisements to all site visitors. 

Cryptojackers can also embed JavaScript in websites without the use of advertisements. Some websites even admit that their pages use visitors’ devices to run cryptomining software while they are browsing. 

This technique has been proposed for other applications, such as generating revenue for websites and services and raising funds for disaster relief efforts. Cryptomining code is not stored on the victim’s devices in these cases, but instead runs only when the victim visits an infected website or fails to detect the compromised pop-under ad.

Host cryptojacking 

This method functions similarly to standard phishing and malware attacks. Cryptojackers trick victims into clicking on seemingly harmless links that install cryptomining software on their devices. All types of devices can be affected by host-based cryptojacking. For example, Google Android phones are vulnerable to Trojan horse cryptojacking attacks via Google Play Store apps. 

In addition, cryptojacking malware can infect open source code and public application programming interfaces, infecting devices that download the code or API as well as any software developed with them. Cryptojackers can also gain access to unprotected cloud storage.

Cryptojacking software can spread across the network once inside a victim’s endpoint, including servers, cloud infrastructures, and software supply chains. Many cryptojacking scripts also have worming capabilities, which detect and disable existing cryptojacking malware on a victim’s device before replacing it.

The following steps are involved in both attack methods:

  1. Preparing the script

A miner creates a cryptocurrency mining script in order to infect a website or device.

  1. Script Infection 

When a victim clicks on a link and unknowingly downloads crypto mining software, a website is infected or their device is compromised.

  1. Attack

Once the crypto mining script has been run, cryptomining software starts to use the victim’s computing power. The amount of power sent from the victim’s device to the illegal mining operation is under the cybercriminal’s control.

What Is The History Of Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking first came to light in September of 2017, at the height of bitcoin’s popularity. Coinhive published a code on their website that was intended to be a mining tool for website owners to earn money passively as an alternative to website advertisements. 

However, it was abused by cybercriminals in order to embed their own crypto mining scripts. Visitors’ computing resources were used to mine for Monero (cryptocurrency).

Why have cases of Cryptojacking increased?

According to SonicWall’s Cyber Threat Report, the crackdown on ransomware attacks is forcing cybercriminals to look for alternative techniques. Cryptojacking fits in their boots perfectly fine.

 Cryptojacking is an appealing alternative for cybercriminal gangs because it has a lower risk of being detected by the victim; unsuspecting users all over the world notice their devices becoming noticeably slower, but it’s difficult to link it to criminal activity, let alone point to the source.

Cryptojacking can be successful without the victim ever being aware of it. Unlike ransomware, which makes an announcement of its presence and mainly relies on communication with victims.

How to spot Cryptojacking?

The purpose of cryptojacking is to be as quiet as possible. But these four primary signs are worth keeping an eye out for:

  1. Poor performance

Cryptojacking is often characterized by poor performance. Devices affected may run slower than usual or crash at unexpected times due to the extra workload’s strain on processing power.

  1. Overheating

Overheating is a common side effect. If a Cryptojacking script is taxing an infected device’s processor, fans in infected devices run faster than usual, and batteries may overheat. Overheating can cause device damage or shorten its lifespan.

  1. Central processing unit (CPU) use spikes in response to cryptojacking.

In response to Cryptojacking, the central processing unit (CPU) employs spikes. When visiting sites with little or no media content, victims with Windows can check their CPU usage in Activity Monitor or Task Manager. 

If users notice an unusual spike, it could be the result of a Cryptojacking cyber attack. However, Cryptojacking malware can be written to masquerade as legitimate processes, making it difficult to detect.

How Can Cryptojacking be avoided?

It is difficult to detect when a system has been compromised by Cryptojacking, but putting preventative measures in place can protect computers, networking systems, or crypto-assets:

IT Team Training 

IT teams should be trained to detect Cryptojacking and be on the lookout for signs of an attack at all times so that immediate action can be taken to further the investigation.

Educating Employees 

Since IT teams rely on employees to notify them when systems are running slowly or overheating, employees must be made aware of such symptoms that can jeopardize cybersecurity. 

They must be taught not to click on random links in emails unless they come from a trusted source. The same is true for personal emails.

Using Anti-Cryptomining Extensions 

Browser extensions can help keep cryptocurrency miners at bay. Because web browsers are frequently used by attackers to deploy Cryptojacking scripts, it is critical to use anti-crypto mining extensions. Examples of such extensions include Anti-Miner, MinerBlock, No Coin, and others. 

Ad-Blocking Softwares 

Web advertisements are another common way for Cryptojacking scripts to be embedded. In this case, the best preventive measure is to use an ad-blocker, which can detect and block malicious crypto-mining codes.

Disabling JavaScript 

When browsing the web, disable JavaScript to prevent Cryptojacking codes from infecting your system. However, keep in mind that doing so will also disable many of the functions required for browsing.

Cryptojacking, like other forms of cybercrime, is motivated by profit. Unlike most threats, however, it is designed to remain undetected by the victim. The Cryptojacking code consumes only enough system resources to go undetected by the user.

As a result, it is critical to be cautious and aware when your system is not running smoothly, as the only visible sign of Cryptojacking is slower performance or lags in execution.

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