Cryptojacking: a threat that goes beyond virtual currencies

Cryptocurrencies have become a controversial figure in recent times, however it is also a fact that these virtual assets have achieved great popularity, and as a consequence of this, various forms or schemes of fraud that involve in a way to digital currency, it is cryptojacking or hacking for crypto mining.

“Cryptojacking could be translated as a form of illegal cryptocurrency mining, which hijacks the processing power of computers, to make them solve mathematical calculations and receive cryptocurrencies. Malicious software can enter either through a download or by visiting a web page. Once installed, the software uses legitimate Windows process names to go unnoticed and occupy the performance of the CPU in cryptocurrency mining ”, said the specialized firm Kaspersky.

For example, the popularity of bitcoin in Mexico has reached 1 million accounts that operated this type of asset in the country.

“This trend is reflected in the global consumer survey, prepared by Statista, positioning Mexico with 9% of the population adopting the currency. Thanks to this, they have become an easy target for cyberattacks, forming part of a 24% increase compared to 2021 for Latin America ”, according to data from the firm.

Kaspersky also detailed that cryptojacking is a threat that enters a computer or mobile device and uses its resources to generate cryptocurrencies.

“People who exchange computing resources for cryptocurrencies are called miners. (…) This order of things has given rise to cryptojacking and cryptojackers, as those who seek to benefit from crypto mining without assuming its enormous costs are known. Cryptojacking gives hackers the ability to generate cryptocurrencies without incurring costs, ”added Kaspersky.

How to detect it?

According to the firm, detecting a cryptojacking attack is not always easy as mining software is usually well hidden and its operations are easily confused with benign ones, however, he said, there are three characteristic signs that something is wrong.

“One of the main symptoms of cryptojacking is a decrease in the performance of the device. If your device is running slower than usual or you notice that it stops responding, don’t take it as a minor problem. Another indication that something is wrong is that your battery lasts less than normal, ”he said.

The IT security company added that another signal to detect cryptojacking is overheating: “Like any intensive process, crypto mining can cause the device to overheat. Extreme temperatures can cause equipment damage or shorten its life. If you notice that your computer’s fan is spinning at full speed, it could be that the temperature has risen due to a website or a crypto mining script and that the team is doing its best to prevent a fire, “he warned.

On the other hand, he added that some crypto mining scripts behave like “virtual worms”: once they have access to a network, they try to infect other devices and servers.

“This makes them more difficult to identify and eliminate. Some scripts also scan the victim’s device to determine if it has already been infected by other mining software. In the positive case, they disable the application of the competition ”, he detailed.

In addition, he also reported that during the first scenarios where cases of cryptojacking were detected, the owners of some websites had an idea to monetize the traffic: ask visitors for authorization to generate cryptocurrencies on their devices while they were on the site.

“Malicious crypto mining is an activity that is carried out without permission and that does not stop even if the visitor leaves the site. It is common on sites with a dubious reputation, but it can also be seen on legitimate sites that have been attacked, ”he said.

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