What Is Cryptojacking and How Do You Detect It?

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Cryptojacking malware can take over your computer and steal its resources. But how can you detect it?

Computer in Dark Room

Criminals use all sorts of tricks and tactics to achieve their sinister goals. Unfortunately, the world of cryptocurrencies is not exempt. New criminal tactics have emerged in the form of an online threat known as cryptojacking.

What exactly is cryptojacking and how does it work? You can find out in this article.

What Is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is an emerging form of cybercrime that involves the unauthorized use of a computer and its resources to mine cryptocurrency, usually without the user’s knowledge.

A cryptocurrency is a form of digital money which is made using cryptographic tokens. cryptocurrencies were created as a better alternative to traditional money, such as fiat currency. Many cybercriminals use cryptojacking to take advantage of the rising rates of cryptocurrency adoption.

How Does Cryptojacking Work?

Cryptojackers access devices with different methods. One of the most frequently used methods involves malware. Malicious software infects a device after a malicious link on a website or in an email is clicked. This downloads crypto mining code directly to the device. Once the infection has taken hold of a computer, the unauthorized mining of cryptocurrency begins without the awareness of the user.

Another method of cryptojacking is known as ‘drive-by’ crypto mining. Similar to dastardly advertising exploits, the scheme operates by embedding a piece of JavaScript code into a website. Malware infects the devices of people that visit the site, making them unwilling participants in cryptocurrency mining processes.

Related: How to Avoid Cryptojackers on Google Play

Unfortunately, cryptojacking is not limited to computers. This menace not only takes over web browsers, but it can compromise all kinds of devices, from desktops and laptops to smartphones and network servers. Considering the malware’s ability to remain undetected, is there a way to detect it on your device?

How Do You Detect Cryptojacking?

Although the malware performs its dastardly deeds on your device stealthily without your knowledge, you may begin to notice slower computer performance. This is a noticeable tell-tale sign that something unpleasant may be afoot.

  1. Spike in CPU usage. As cryptomining is a major consumer of resources, it is easy for the machines doing it to easily stand out. You may use this knowledge to detect cryptojacking by monitoring spikes in your CPU and setting up alerts for when CPU usage exceeds a certain percentage on machines that it doesn’t normally reach.
  2. Decrease in performance. If you notice a decrease in performance in your computing devices then make sure to run checks. This includes desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Slower systems are usually the first sign that crypto mining is taking place.
  3. Overheating. The resource-intensive process of cryptojacking can cause your devices to overheat. This can eventually lead to damages or shortening of the lifespan of your device.

Related: How to Remove Malware With Microsoft Defender

In as much as detecting cryptojacking is vital, it will serve you better, in the long run, to prevent cryptojacking from occurring in the first place.

How to Protect Yourself From Cryptojacking

It is important to take a number of different precautionary approaches when it comes to blocking cryptojackers. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. This is particularly important in the case of cryptojacking methods that run in-browser.

Here are some tips for protection:

  1. Blacklisting domains. This is a good place to start, you can do it manually or by recruiting software or plugins to do the job for you. Many anti-virus solutions, such as Bitdefender, Avast, and MalwareBytes will automatically block mining sites from accessing the domain and IP.
  2. Use anti-cryptomining extensions. Cryptojacking scripts are often deployed in web browsers. Use browser extensions to block crypto miners across the web such as minerBlock, No Coin, and Anti Miner.
  3. Disable JavaScript. When browsing online, disabling JavaScript can prevent cryptojacking code from infiltrating your computer. However, keep in mind that by disabling JavaScript you will simultaneously block many of the functions you require when browsing.

Remain Vigilant

Armed with more of an understanding of cryptojacking, you should be sure to remain vigilant and when possible, take a closer look at the strength of your security. With so many processes going on in a computer, it can be easy to overlook the risks of cryptojacking. It is always better to be safe, rather than sorry.

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