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Cryptojacking

Definition of Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is a malicious activity where unauthorized individuals use a person’s computer or network resources to mine for cryptocurrencies. It usually occurs without the victim’s knowledge or consent and can slow down the performance of the computer or increase energy consumption. Cybercriminals often spread cryptojacking malware via phishing emails, malicious websites, or infected software downloads.

Phonetic

The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Cryptojacking” is: /’krɪptəʊ’ʤakɪŋ/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s computing resources, like their CPU or GPU, to mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge or consent.
  2. It can be achieved through malware, compromised websites, or browser extensions that install malicious mining scripts on the user’s device.
  3. Cryptojacking can lead to decreased device performance, increased power consumption, and potential hardware damage, affecting both individuals and businesses.

Importance of Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is an important technology term because it refers to the malicious practice of exploiting victims’ computing resources without their consent to mine cryptocurrencies.

This unauthorized use of processing power not only affects individuals and businesses by degrading computer performance, increasing wear and tear on hardware and producing higher electricity costs, but it also raises broader cybersecurity concerns.

Cryptojacking can infiltrate systems through phishing attacks or by embedding malicious scripts in websites, which underscores the need for adaptive security measures and user awareness.

Understanding this term is essential as it highlights the growing importance of vigilance and proactive protection in our increasingly digital world, where new cyber threats continue to emerge as technology evolves.

Explanation

Cryptojacking is a nefarious practice where cybercriminals take advantage of a user’s computer or other devices to mine cryptocurrencies. The primary purpose of cryptojacking is to illegally amass digital assets, such as Bitcoin or Monero, without the device owner’s knowledge or consent. This is achieved by embedding malicious software, or malware, into the victim’s computer, system, or entire network.

Once infected, the user’s device performs complex mathematical calculations, a process commonly known as mining, which ultimately results in the creation and accumulation of cryptocurrency. The profit generated from this stealthy operation is then funneled back to the cybercriminals while victims are left facing the direct consequences such as increased electricity bills, reduced device performance, and system degradation. One of the reasons why cryptojacking is gaining prominence in the realm of cybercrime is due to its ability to operate covertly, allowing hackers to yield potentially substantial financial returns with minimal risk of detection.

Unlike traditional ransomware attacks where victims are often prompted to pay a sum in return for the release of their data, cryptojacking victims may be completely unaware of their system’s exploitation. Additionally, cryptojacking can be easily deployed through various vectors such as malicious emails, compromised websites, or even mobile applications. With the continuous evolution in technology and increasing reliance on digital currencies, cryptojacking is expected to remain a concerning trend.

As such, it is crucial for individuals and businesses to employ protective measures and remain vigilant to safeguard their devices and networks from this insidious threat.

Examples of Cryptojacking

Coinhive: Coinhive was a popular cryptojacking service that first emerged in

It offered an easy-to-embed JavaScript miner for the Monero cryptocurrency that website owners could integrate into their platforms. Unscrupulous actors took advantage of this by injecting Coinhive’s script into compromised websites without users’ knowledge or consent, which would then use the users’ computer processing power or CPU to mine Monero cryptocurrency. Coinhive eventually ceased operations in March 2019, citing unfavorable market conditions and negative public perception.

Tesla Cloud Cryptojacking Attack: In February 2018, cybersecurity firm RedLock discovered that cybercriminals had gained unauthorized access to Tesla’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure and were using it for cryptojacking purposes. The attackers exploited an unsecured Kubernetes console, allowing them to mine Monero using Tesla’s cloud resources. RedLock alerted Tesla to the issue, and the company quickly secured the vulnerability.

WannaMine Malware: WannaMine is a cryptojacking malware that began spreading in late

It uses sophisticated propagation techniques similar to those used by the WannaCry ransomware and exploits the same EternalBlue vulnerability in Windows operating systems. Once a system is infected, WannaMine starts mining Monero cryptocurrency using the victim’s resources. The malware can be difficult to detect and remove due to its advanced evasion tactics and persistence mechanisms.

Cryptojacking FAQ

What is cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone’s computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies by hackers. This is typically accomplished by embedding a malicious script into websites, emails, or software applications.

How does cryptojacking work?

Cryptojacking usually begins with a victim unknowingly downloading or accessing content that contains a hidden crypto mining script. When the content is accessed, the script starts to run in the background, using the victim’s computer processing power to mine cryptocurrencies for the cryptojacker, often without the user’s knowledge or consent.

How can I detect cryptojacking?

Common signs of cryptojacking include a significant slowdown of your computer, increased use of the CPU, overheating of the device, and higher energy consumption. To detect cryptojacking, you can use security software that scans for and detects crypto mining scripts and monitor the CPU usage of your device.

How can I prevent cryptojacking?

To prevent cryptojacking, keep your software and operating systems up to date, use strong and unique passwords, install reputable ad-blockers and browser extensions that block crypto mining scripts, and use security software that provides real-time protection against cryptojacking.

What should I do if my computer has been cryptojacked?

If you suspect your computer is being cryptojacked, take the following steps: first, run a security scan with an anti-malware/anti-virus software to remove any malicious software or scripts. Next, update your software and security solutions to prevent future attacks. Lastly, change your passwords and be cautious when clicking on links or downloading content from the internet.

Related Technology Terms

  • Malware
  • Blockchain
  • Cryptocurrency mining
  • Browser-based mining
  • Cybersecurity

Sources for More Information

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