Hackers hijack PCs to steal cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero are so popular because they’re secure and potentially worth thousands of dollars. But investors and consumers aren’t the only ones interested in them. Hackers are using malicious tactics to steal cryptocurrency, and they’re doing it with something called cryptojacking.
Cryptojacking secretly uses your computer to calculate complex mathematical problems to generate cryptocurrency. They get inside by using phishing emails to lure victims into clicking on a link, which then runs malicious cryptomining programs on the computer. Any cryptocurrency produced then gets delivered to the hacker’s private server.
But hackers have developed an even more insidious tactic. By infecting websites with ads and plugins that run cryptojacking code, any visitor who loads the web page instantly gets infected with the malware, sending their computer’s processor into overdrive trying to generate cryptocurrency.
Unlike most malware, cryptojacking software won’t compromise your data. But it will hijack your hardware’s processing power, decreasing performance while increasing your power and cooling bills. So instead of paying for the computing power themselves, hackers can simply use thousands of compromised computers.
Surge in cryptojacking
It’s difficult to tell how much hackers are making with cryptojacking, but there’s a good chance that this type of attack will be as popular as ransomware was in 2017. In fact, for as little as $30, anyone can purchase a cryptojacking kit from the dark web to force other computers to generate Bitcoin or Monero for them.
According to several reports, even sites like The Pirate Bay, Openload, and OnlineVideoConverter are allegedly using cryptojacking exploits to diversify their revenue streams.
The biggest reason why this is becoming so popular is because it’s a low-risk, high-reward scheme. Instead of extorting money directly from the victim, hackers can secretly generate digital currencies without the victim knowing.
If it is detected, it’s also very hard to track down who initiated the attack. And since nothing was actually “stolen” (other than a portion of computing power), victims have little incentive to apprehend the culprit.
Prevention and response
To avoid cryptojacking, you need to incorporate it into your monthly security training sessions. Teach your employees to practice extra caution with unsolicited emails and suspicious links. Using ad-blocker or anti-cryptomining extensions on web browsers is also a great way to stay protected.
Beyond prevention, use network monitoring solutions to detect any unusual behavior with your computers. For example, if you notice a significant number of PCs running slower than usual, you should assume that cryptojacking is taking place.
If you’ve confirmed that it is, advise your staff to close browser tabs and update browser extensions as soon as possible.
Cryptojacking may seem less threatening than some malware we’ve discussed in the past, but it can incur real power, cooling, and performance costs to your business when several systems are compromised. To make sure you don’t end up enriching any hackers, call us today. We offer hardware solutions and cybersecurity tips to keep your business safe and sound.