Cryptocurrency malware takes control of the victim’s computer for cryptocurrency mining without being detected. The pressing concern remains: How can you detect cryptojacking without allowing cybercriminals to exploit your resources? Various steps and tips can be used to protect yourself, but it definitely starts with being aware.
To see the full picture of cryptomining malware, we need to understand how cryptomining works and what the processes are. Crypto mining is performed using sophisticated hardware that solves an extremely complex computational mathematical problem. The more mathematical problems the computer solves, the more cryptocurrencies will be rewarded as a prize for completing the current task.
The process of solving a mathematical problem is time-consuming and requires a considerable amount of computer processing power and energy. As a result, crypto mining becomes an impractical task for the average user. However, when it comes to making money, people will always strive to find more efficient and profitable methods in this pursuit. On the other hand, cybercriminals have resorted to using crypto malware as a way to get rich by committing cybercrimes.
Cryptocurrency malware, also known as cryptojacking, is a type of software that clandestinely leverages your computer or mobile devices for cryptocurrency mining. The user is not aware or authorized of this instructional activity. This malicious software surreptitiously uses victims’ computing power and resources to meet its own financial goal, resulting in depleting computer performance and increasing electricity costs for the unfortunate target.
How is malware defined and how is it related to bitcoin mining?
Malware, short for malicious software, is the use of malicious code, which refers to any instructional software developed by cybercriminals to steal confidential data and damage or destroy computers and computer systems. Types of malware include viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, and ransomware. All this means that malicious code attacks have very serious consequences for their victims.
When cryptocurrencies were created and introduced to the world, hackers saw these digital assets as a gold mine where they could attack and make huge profits and of course their potential customers cannot be traced.
What is bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin mining is the process of validating information in a blockchain block by generating a cryptographic solution that matches specific criteria. When a correct solution is reached, a reward in the form of bitcoin fees for the work done is given to the miner who reached the solution first. As we said earlier, solving a mathematical problem requires a lot of computing resources, and these resources consume a lot of electricity.
For that reason, hackers need to cryptojack as many computer systems as possible, and they get that working power by infecting computers with cryptocurrency malware. Like any other malicious attack, the main motive is profit, but unlike other threats, it is designed to remain hidden from the user.
How does cryptocurrency malware work?
As we said earlier, cryptomining malware is as destructive to victims as all other types of malware. The goal of these attacks is to generate profits and exploit users’ devices by using their resources, and then leave the bills to be paid by their victims.
It is a heavy and slow process that requires enough system resources to solve the puzzles, while doing so the processors constantly run at their maximum capacity and of course need more electricity, leading to higher bills for the owners of computers and decreases the lifespan of the victim’s device quickly.
Early instances of malicious versions of cryptomining don’t bother asking for permission and continue working long after leaving the initial site. This is a common method for dubious site owners who have compromised legitimate sites. Furthermore, users have no idea that the site they have visited uses their computer to mine cryptocurrencies.
Types of cryptocurrency malware
CryptoLocker is a cryptojacking malware that keeps your files held ransom by encrypting them. We can say with confidence that this is a type of crypto ransomware. Encryption is based on two “keys”, a public key and a private key. Cryptocriminals use the public key to encrypt and lock your files. They also have the private key to decrypt them, of course, in case the victim has paid the ransom.
Prometei botnets are networks of computers infected with cryptojacking malware and controlled as a group without the victim’s knowledge. The goal of Prometei botnets is to install itself on as many devices as possible to mine the Monero cryptocurrency. This type of malware targets victims at random and uses known exploits to spread across a network of devices and execute cryptomining attacks.
PowerGhost is a fileless crypto malware that attacks corporate servers and spreads undetected by the servers, making it incredibly harmful. Additionally, it has the ability to disable antivirus software for the purpose of evading detection and stealing as much cryptocurrency as possible from the victim’s digital wallet.
Malware y scripts de crypto jacking
Cryptojacking is a cybercrime, also known as malicious cryptomining scripts. It is an online threat that hides in a computer or mobile device and uses the hardware resources of the machine to mine cryptocurrency without paying for electricity and other mining resources. Getting infected with this type of malware requires a single click on a malicious link in an email or website, and loads the cryptomining code directly to the computer or mobile device.
Malicious crypto miners attack through fraudulent web browser downloads or mobile apps where on-the-fly crypto mining can infect your Android mobile device. Cryptojacking compromises all types of devices such as laptops, desktop PCs, smartphones and network servers. This means that no one is protected against this type of cryptojacking software. The motive of cryptojacking code and malicious attacks is to generate profits, but unlike many other threats, they are made to remain completely hidden from victims.
Trojan malware can cause enormous problems and consequences for infected devices. Once the infection is on your system, it can install other malware and cause a variety of other problems that can be destructive to the software and hardware of any device.
Trojan viruses have the ability to steal your personal information, plus they put you at risk of identity theft and other cybercrimes. Some Trojans download additional malware software onto your computer and then bypass your antivirus and security settings, leaving them free to do whatever they want with your devices, which can be extremely destructive and harmful.
Trojans also have the ability to hijack your computer system and make it part of a criminal Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) network. Another disturbing fact about Trojan malware is that it has the ability to pass through open windows. Although the user thinks that the visible browser windows are closed, a hidden one remains open. It’s usually a notice behind the persistent active window that is sized to fit under the taskbar, making it very difficult to notice.
Cybercriminals use this tactic to force users to pay the ransom using specific online payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies, in order to obtain the decryption key. If users do not pay promptly, their data will be permanently lost or the ransom amount will increase rapidly.
Unfortunately, these types of attacks are very common and numerous major companies in Europe and North America have fallen into the networks of cybercriminals. Even if users pay the ransom to restore access to their data, they are likely to encounter more ransomware attacks, until the malicious software is completely removed from their system.
Impact of Cryptomining Malware
As we know, cryptocurrency malware does not steal or lock your data, so it cannot be considered a significant cyber threat, compared to a costly ransomware attack or a disruptive Trojan virus. However, its continuous use of users’ computing resources to mine valuable cryptocurrencies and coins is exhausting and significantly affects the productivity of hijacked devices.
One of the main symptoms of being infected with cryptocurrency malware is slower computing performance, resulting in the inability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. On the other hand, the user will experience higher electricity bills due to constantly working at the maximum capacity of their computer.
Negative impact on computer performance caused by cryptocurrency mining
Depending on each case, the impact of cryptocurrency malware may be different. Even so, the most typical consequences that victims notice are:
1. Lack of system performance due to the use of the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and bandwidth resources by illegal crypto mining activity.
2. Interruptions of routine operations.
3. Financial losses due to increased power consumption and downtime caused by cryptojacking activity and constant work of computing power.
4. Additionally, there may be a cost associated with file and system recovery.
5. Reputational and compliance risks and unauthorized access to the system.
Increased risk of identity theft
Cryptocurrency malware uses the same methods as ordinary malware and as we know, when a computer is infected with malware, there is always a high risk of identity theft due to the distributed database and complete access by cyber attackers. .
The infection can be deployed on your computer or mobile device by opening a malicious link, visiting an infected site, or downloading an application that allows attackers to access their victims’ data.
How to protect yourself from cryptocurrency malware?
Everyone should be worried about being infected with this type of dangerous malware and should consider using a cryptojacking blocker on their devices. Additionally, there are some malware precautions that can be used to avoid a cryptojacking attack and other malware. While most cryptocurrency hacks involve the theft of private keys belonging to users’ cryptocurrency wallets, their purpose is to empty them and generate financial profits.
In the end, the entire cryptojacking code and working process is not much different from other types of malware. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency published a list of tips to follow to protect your devices with technical details, but here are the basics and those that are easier to execute to avoid online threats and being infected by cryptocurrency malware.
Use ad blockers in your browser to prevent browser mining.
1. Install security programs such as antivirus and malware protection and keep them updated.
2. Avoid visiting websites known to run cryptojacking scripts.
4. Protect server farms with cybersecurity systems .
By following these easy-to-execute tips, you will minimize the chance of becoming a victim of cryptocurrency malware.
Keep systems and software up to date
Another key aspect to protecting your devices in the best way possible is to keep your antivirus and malware software up to date, so you will quickly increase your security walls. By doing so, it will be much more difficult for cybercriminals to slip past your protection systems. As with all other malware precautions, it is much better to install security and keep it up to date before becoming a victim.
Use software antivirus
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from all types of malicious attacks and any harmful software is to install antivirus software on all the devices you have. Let me explain it in very simple words, if you have antivirus software, you are protected, if not, you are a sweet morsel for cyber criminals.
Over the years, all types of cyber threats have been constantly updated and become more dangerous than ever. Fortunately, computer antivirus software , including comprehensive cybersecurity programs, do the same, by updating techniques and methods to protect your devices, they are able to ensure a safe environment for each of them, so having such software! It’s a life saver!
Beware of suspicious emails and links
Malware and all the variety of cyber threats are waiting around the corner to strike at the right time. They are using well-covered malicious techniques to trap victims into their traps through visible browser windows, malicious links, infected files and many other ways.
The most common trap they set is providing suspicious emails and links. Afterwards, they just hope to catch as many victims as possible. Additionally, performance issues become difficult for users to control. And at the end of the day, you can lose important data, be blackmailed for money or cryptocurrency, and have many other serious consequences for you and your devices.
Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication
Over the last decade, security features have improved rapidly with constant updates and implementation of new features to provide better security. One of the most useful updates is two-factor authentication, which represents a security system that requires two separate and distinct forms of identification to access user accounts.
The first and main factor is a password, and the second includes text with a code that is sent to your devices. Another very useful factor is the use of biometric data such as fingerprint recognition, facial recognition or retina recognition, these are the most difficult factors to hack and guarantee the best security for your accounts.
Experts advise that if we use only one password without two-factor authentication, we should make our password as complex as possible. It is mandatory to have at least 18 characters in your password, including letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols, without including any obvious personal information or common words. By doing so, you will ensure the best protection for your accounts.
Conclusion: The importance of being vigilant against cryptocurrency malware
As we explained above, a cryptojacking, bitcoin mining, or any other cryptocurrency mining attack will affect the performance of users’ phones, computers, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The primary responsibility of users is to be aware of the disturbing and noticeable effects of using resources on their devices without their knowledge.
As we said, the most obvious symptom of having cryptocurrency malware is decreased performance on computing devices. You should also keep an eye on slower system performance, and the last one is when the battery drains faster than normal.