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CryptojackingBy Swati Keswani | May 24, 2018, 8:26 a.m. GMT
One of the business tycoons in the Aditya Birla Group, India suffered from the biggest cryptojacking attack in the past month. According to a report by Economic times, around 2000 computers of various companies were targeted for use in the cryptojacking cycle.
The drastic increase in the number of cryptocurrencies has attracted several hijackers who are eager to get their hands on these coins. They have become adept at hijacking systems to serve their purpose, by taking over computing power for solving mathematical algorithms to generate new coins.
As per the report by Internet security threat from Symantec – a cyber-security software company, these cryptojacking attacks have gone up by 8500% in 2017.
Theoretically, cryptocurrencies are considered to be the secured system defined by distributed digital ledgers that record all the transactions in a secure and transparent manner. The computer nodes available in the network are updated with each transaction; this means there is no single point-of-control for the data or a single-centric database. Essentially, this eliminates the risk of a single point of failure. Sounds great for security purposes, right?
But with this distributed nature, comes a new type of vulnerability – Cryptojacking, which is distributed much like Blockchain itself.
What is Cryptojacking?
Mining a cryptocurrency uses a lot of electricity and requires high-end computers, leading to high operational costs. To overrun these costs, attackers use malwares to force an entry into remote computers and use their computing power to mine coins. These malwares can travel through all internet devices like desktops, laptops, or mobiles, and can maliciously corrupt systems without the knowledge of their owners. These cryptojackers generally target websites which see millions of users every day. As soon as the malware hits the website, it infects the browsers of the visitors, which in turn slows down the visitors’ machines.
Apps and websites that provide free content generate revenue from giving some of their space for digital advertising. However, file sharing websites like Pirate Bay have been known to deploy malicious codes to hijack visitors’ systems to mine Monero (a well-known cryptocurrency with a profit of close to 5x in the last 6 months).
These attacks consist of only a few lines of code that need to be executed and can cause symptoms like slowing down the victim’s devices, overheating their batteries, or even sometimes rendering their systems unusable.
Here are certain applications / extensions that can save you from being cryptojacked:
- MinerBlock: It is an anti-mining browser extension that will block the Cryptojacking attack using software patches.
- NoCoin: This extension can be loaded on any browser like Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, etc. It provides protection not only from Coinhive (commonly used tool by Cryptojackers to intervene your system) but also several other sites that cryptojack systems to mine bitcoin or Ethereum.
- MalwareBytes: This is a software package that can act as a bulwark against a huge variety of malicious software. It also protects from hackers trying to breach private networks.