The concept of a decentralized digital currency first came about in 1998 due to a growing need to transact anonymously, but it wasn’t until 2009 when the first decentralized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created. Cryptocurrencies make transactions secure, balanced, and tax-free. They can be used to exchange products, services, and money. As of this writing, there are 1,300 cryptocurrencies existing in the ether.
However, as cryptocurrencies exist only in the digital world, there are concerns regarding their security against cybercriminals. For instance, the anonymity involved in cryptocurrency transactions makes it highly appealing to hackers. Simply put, cryptocurrencies are generally safe but still vulnerable to cyberthreats.
Hackers know that mining and cracking the existing security of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is mathematically possible, but the costs in energy and resources of doing so are extremely high. This means expensive electricity bills and high-end computer equipment. This is why cybercriminals figured out a way to break the system — cryptojacking. Through cryptojacking, hackers can now use other people’s computers and infiltrate a whole IT infrastructure to mine cryptocurrencies faster.
Two methods of cryptojacking
Installing cryptomining code on a computer
Sending emails that contain malware is the most popular tactic to install cryptomining code on a computer. With this phishing method, the user is tricked into clicking on a seemingly safe link or attachment, which will run a code that downloads the cryptomining script onto the computer.
In an office setting, this script can spread to a whole network of devices and run in the background without anyone noticing, allowing hackers to control your entire IT system for cryptojacking.
Installing cryptomining code on a website
Another tactic is installing cryptomining script on one or multiple websites and ads. When an unsuspecting victim visits the infected website, or whenever the ads pop up in the browser, the code executes without the victim knowing.
Both of these methods make use of the infected computers to solve complex mathematical problems needed to mine the “coins” and send the results to the hackers.
How will this affect your business?
Since cybercriminals will be using your computers’ processing resources for cryptomining, your devices will be processing more data than they can usually handle. Energy costs and CPU power usage will skyrocket. Moreover, this can take a toll on your internet bandwidth. This means someone else is benefiting from all your investments in your IT infrastructure.
As for your employees’ productivity, their work efficiency is expected to plummet because of all the interruptions that may be caused by cryptojacking. Ultimately, this can lead to poor performance, and eventually, a decrease in your revenue.
How to avoid cryptojacking?
Check for signs of hardware overheating
Too many background activities running on your devices can cause hardware that’s only designed for office work to overheat. If your CPU is constantly shutting down or overheating, it may be an early sign of cryptojacking. Make sure to catch the problem early to prevent it from spreading to your entire network.
Educate your employees about malicious emails and websites
Since cybercriminals take advantage of human error to hack into your systems, it is a good idea to educate your staff about cryptojacking. Conduct frequent and regular training sessions on spotting and handling potentially malicious emails and websites.
Improve your company’s cybersecurity
Your IT staff always needs to be one step ahead of cryptojackers to protect your systems. Make sure that they have an in-depth understanding of the cybersecurity landscape so they’ll always be prepared for any new trends in cryptojacking.
If you have a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), and hiring an in-house IT department is too costly for you, partner with a managed IT services provider (MSP) like Wood Dragon IT. Wood Dragon IT provides prompt, personalized, and professional IT support that will keep your infrastructure working at peak performance and keep cryptojackers at bay. Partner with us!