Bitcoin & cryptojacking – Part 2
Our last post examined what cryptocurrencies, cryptomining, blockchains, and cryptojacking are. In this post, we examine how a cryptojacking attack is launched.
How a Cryptojacking Attack is Launched
Because of the high return associated with cryptocurrency, cyber-attackers want to get their foot into this game and become cryptominers themselves, but of course illegally. Keep in mind, there are very complex mathematical problems to solve in order for the miner to be rewarded. This of course takes a lot of computing and processing power.
The cyber-attacker does not want to spend the money in terms of procuring the extra hardware to do this, so he or she will hijack a computer, and from there, steal the processing power as well as the electricity in order to mine the cryptocurrencies. You may be asking at this point; how can they do this to your computer?
It’s quite easy. All they have to do is send you a phishing-like email, which contains a malicious link or attachment. Once you have fallen victim to this, a specialized cryptomining code is then installed onto your computer or even mobile device.
Even if you visit a website, there could be infected pieces of Java source code running behind the site you are viewing, and the cryptomining code can then be covertly loaded onto your computer. At this point, the cryptomining code is now technically malware.
The problem with this new malware is that it is very difficult to spot on your computer and can installed and deployed in a very sneaky manner. In these instances, the cyber-attacker is not just exclusively targeting computers and wireless devices; they will go after anything that will give them free electricity. This includes servers, routers, cable modems, firewalls, network intrusion devices, etc.
It is also important to keep in mind that there is no specialized package that the cyber-attacker has to deploy onto a device – the malware is just a few lines of infected source code. This makes it more difficult to detect. Because of the extremely low overhead that is required, and its sneaky nature, the rise in cryptojacking has increased significantly.
For example, McAfee has just discovered almost three million new cases of it, which is a staggering 629 percent increase from 2017. So, what are some of the telltale signs if your computer has been hijacked for the purposes of cryptojacking? Here are some clues:
- Slowdown in the speed of your computer;
- Very slow load times when trying to connect to the Internet;
- A slow increase in your electricity bill.
Our next blog will examine how to protect your cloud-based Infrastructure from a crpytojacking attack.