Cyber-security requires awareness
Cryptojacking. Cryptomining. Two names for one and the same threat causing problems for your computer and your smart phone. The name “cryptojacking” comes from the ability of this threat to hide on your device and take it over. Cryptomining is the name given to indicate the reason. Your device is cryptojacked so that undesirables can use the resources on your device to mine cryptocurrencies. Not that you are interested or own cryptocurrencies. Rather, unknown to you, someone else is using your computer to gain access to the protected records, enabling financial gain dishonestly. This is a proliferating nuisance that is infiltrating Internet devices from desktop to laptop to smart phone to network server. An extensive problem!
The Ransomware problem demands your attention. “Pay us now or we’ll destroy your data.” Holding your data ransom. Seeking outrageous sums of money. But cryptojacking seeks to take control and use the resource without being noticed. If you notice what’s happening, you will quickly take steps to be rid of the problem. By staying hidden in the background, the hijacker can continue to use the resources of the computer – and hundreds of others like it – to form a mining network, or “bitcoin farm,” as it is sometimes called.
What is cryptocurrency?
A reasonable question at this point is, “What is a cryptocurrency?” A prime example is Bitcoin, which has seen great success. Cryptocurrencies are digital money with the one unusual attribute that they only exist online and not as coins in a bag. From an article by Malwarebytes comes this helpful definition: “Units of cryptocurrency (called “coins”) are nothing more than entries in a database.” A promise of value with no tangible substance to back the promise. You would need to study economics and human nature to come to an explanation, but it’s not to far removed from paper money, which is also a promise, but for the most part has some tangible substance proving its reality.
Cryptocurrency, to maintain the anonymity of the owners of the “coins” has no connection to a specific government or bank, with no oversight or regulation other than the digital online function of the code that keeps the records. Cryptocurrency coins are mined. Mining is a complex process of solving a mathematical equation. The equation is so complex that it takes high-powered computers an enormous amount of constant processing time to solve. How much time?
It is reported “the largest bitcoin-farm located in China, for electricity alone, spen[t] $80,000 monthly”. When a transaction is initiated, it is necessary that someone in the system confirms the coins seeking to be mined. Whoever is first to provide the confirmation is rewarded by the system in cryptocurrency coinage. But only the most powerful systems are able to make a profit at this. From this obstacle came the practice of hijacking thousands of computers on the internet to use their resources for the mining process. We the users are now faced with the problem of cryptojacking to do the cryptomining for those who wish to make money without paying for the resource.
How does cryptojacking happen?
How does the cryptojacker begin the process? Carefully. Remember, he wants to stay hidden. The first step is to somehow get the user to load the malicious code directly onto their computer. Once the computer is infected and control given to the outside malicious source, the computer is enrolled into the cryptomining farm and used persistently to contribute to solving the mining equation. Typically the device will slow down – not responding to your requests for data because busy with the cryptojacker’s requests. There will also be a greater use of the devices fan as constant use of the processor will cause it to heat. You may be attacked by an email link or by visiting a web page that is compromised.
While Bitcoin may be too big for the hackers to play the mining game, the many new cryptocurrencies entering the world market have become an allurement and cryptojacking has become the solution. Inexpensively, the hacker can mine for coins using the smart-phones of thousands of people. Specialist in malware detection, Malwarebytes says, “More recently, we saw a 4000 percent increase in detections of Android-based cryp0tojacking malware through the first quarter of 2018.” Malwarebytes provides an excellent software protection from such attacks.
If you have questions or need help with your computer network, give Alliant a call. 626-461-1300.