Cryptojacking 101: Everything You Need to Know: How to prevent, detect and recover?

Crypto mining malware has grown from 500,000 to 4 million in just four years. As new types of cryptocurrency have arisen, hackers have adapted their strategies in order to profit from the digital currency’s expanding popularity. Cryptocurrency mining is also known as Cryptojacking, a very recent hacking trend in which code is injected into websites and used to hijack the users central processing unit. Due to the nature of cryptojacking attacks, the majority of them remain undetected. It’s necessary to know if somehow the network has been infiltrated by cryptojacking.

Table of Content

  1. What is Cryptojacking?
  2. How does Cryptojacking occur?
  3. How to Detect Cryptojacking?
  4. Example of Cryptojacking
  5. How to Prevent Cryptojacking?
  6. Legal and Expert Help

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking refers to unauthorized use of a person’s or group’s processing power to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Usually, the target completely remains unaware that their network is being used against them.

Cryptojacking became one of the most popular types of malware in recent years and now poses a significant threat to many businesses and infrastructures all over the world.

How does Cryptojacking occur?

Cryptojacking uses a computer’s processing resources and power to mine for cryptocurrency or hijack the virtual currencies of unwitting victims. With the exception of a few small warning signs, the code is simple to deploy which runs in the background, and is tough to detect. Cryptojackers hijack computers in a variety of ways:

  1. Phishing: First technique mimics the behavior of traditional malware like cryptomining code gets downloaded through a malicious link. After the computer gets compromised, the cryptojacker starts mining cryptocurrency around the clock while remaining undetected. 
  2. Javascript Code Injection: The second method used by cryptojackers is drive-by crypto mining, which is a browser-based attack. The approach includes putting a bit of JavaScript code onto a web page, comparable to malicious advertising vulnerabilities. The code starts and conducts cryptocurrency mining on any user devices that view the web page if the page is browsed. Although nothing is preserved on the device, mining will keep going till the browser stays open. 
  3. Cloud Cryptojacking: Cloud cryptojacking is the third and last method crytojackers use to gain access to cryptocurrency. This type of cryptojacking entails seizing cloud resources in order to mine for cryptocurrency. Hackers who utilize cloud cryptojacking scour an organization’s data and code for API keys to get access to their cloud services. Hackers can use endless computational power for crypto mining once they obtain access to the system and also use this technology to substantially speed up their cryptojacking efforts to illegally mine for currency.

How to Detect Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking has the ability to destabilize an entire business. Cryptomining scripts are designed to evade detection, so the business leader and the IT team must remain extremely cautious. However, certain indicators will assist in detecting cryptojacking before it gets out of hand:

detect-cryptojacking

Deteriorating Performance

Significant reduction of computing device performance is one of the most typical signs of cryptojacking which includes computers, laptops, tablets and mobiles. Being wary about the slowness, crashing, or abnormally poor performance by following:

  • Relatively slow systems may indicate the presence of cryptomining.
  • Another possible indicator is the battery starts draining faster than usual.

Overheating Issue

Cryptojacking is entirely resource-intensive, which can provoke computing devices to overheat which may cause computer damage or reduce its longevity. Indications to follow:

  • Cryptojacking script can cause a device’s fan to run faster than usual.
  • The device is heating up as a result of the webpage, and the fan is operating to prevent melting or fire.

Central Processing Unit (CPU) Usage

Cryptojacking could be detected by a sudden spike in CPU utilization. There is a possibility of concealing or masquerading as something legitimate in order to prevent the abuse from being stopped. Furthermore, while the computer is operating at maximum capacity, it will be quite slow. Business enterprises can approach their IT department for assistance in monitoring and analyzing CPU consumption, or anyone can examine CPU utilization by following:

  • It’s possible that cryptojacking scripts are running if CPU use increases while surfing a website with no or little media content.
  • Checking the CPU use of a device with the activity monitor or task manager is an effective cryptojacking test.

Example of Cryptojacking

When Tesla Inc.’s Amazon Web Services software package was hacked by criminals in February, it was discovered that the company had been a victim of cryptojacking. Hackers are more resistant to the more well-known type of cryptocurrency, “BITCOIN,” whereas they are more vulnerable to cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Zcash. They engage in illicit operations because it is hard to track them down on these vulnerable platforms.

In December 2017, the next generation of criminals, dubbed “Bank Robbers2.0,” stole a stunning 2000 pounds of gold biscuit equivalent to bitcoins from Nicehash, a popular mining marketplace, totaling nearly US$64 million. The best aspect was that they didn’t have to worry about transferring the stolen money, fleeing the crime scene, blowing things up, or being apprehended by the cops. 

Wannamine, a cryptojacking script created by Panda, a Spanish cybersecurity business, affected many computer systems around the world in February 2018. This software was used to mine “Monero,” a sort of cryptocurrency that has the risk of allowing hackers to assist in the mining of cryptocurrencies utilizing CPUs and also has monetary values. Later that month, the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada were targeted by a cryptojacking attempt.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking can be difficult to identify manually after the fact since it occurs locally on a device or through a browser. Similarly, determining the source of high CPU consumption can be tricky. Processes may disguise themselves as something legitimate in order to thwart attempts to stop the misuse. However, there are some precautions that may be done to protect a computer and its network:

Anti-Crypto Mining Browser Extensions

Web browsers are frequently used to deploy cryptojacking software. Browser extensions like minerBlock, No Coin, and Anti Miner blocks cryptominers across the web.

Ad-Blockers

Cryptojacking technique typically takes place through web advertising. Malicious cryptomining codes can be detected and blocked using an ad-blocker.

Update Device

Vulnerabilities in an outdated technology provide an entry point for criminals. Cryptojacking takes only a few minutes once crooks have taken control of a device by exploiting its weaknesses. It’s critical to keep the devices up to date.

Deactivate JavaScript

Disabling JavaScript while browsing the web can protect your PC from cryptojacking programs. Remember that deactivating JavaScript will prevent users from using many of the functions required while browsing as well.

Educate The IT Staff

Cryptojacking should be understood and detected by the IT personnel. Every organization and infrastructure should educate their IT team to be alert to the first indicators of an attack and act quickly to explore more.

Instruct The Employees

When computers start running slowly or overheating, employees should be the first to notify the IT team. Employees should also be taught about cybersecurity, such as downloading only from trusted sources and also not clicking unauthorized links in emails that can install cryptojacking code. Personal email should be subject to the same rules.

To  know more about Cryptojacking and other personal cybersecurity issues, download our free ebook

Cryptojacking may appear as a fairly innocuous crime because the only thing that gets stolen is the victim’s computing power. The use of computational resources counts as an unlawful purpose which is done without the victim’s knowledge or consent, for the advantage of criminals who create currency illegally.

For any kind of legal help, you can contact your law enforcement agency.

USA: Contact FBI cybercrime unit  Contact Us — FBI

UK: Contact NCA cybercrime unit Cyber crime – National Crime Agency

EU: Contact Europol cybercrime unit  Report Cybercrime online | Europol (europa.eu)

Australia: Contact AFP Cyber crime | Australian Federal Police (afp.gov.au)

Canada: Contact CCCS Report a cyber incident – Canadian Centre for Cyber Security

TechForing recommends looking for a more comprehensive cybersecurity policy that includes 24/7 detection and reaction to any cryptojacking attack. Feel free to book a free consultation with our experts.