Within the past month, a new threat to your privacy and security called “cryptojacking” has made its way to the surface.
Unbeknownst to you, cryptojacking uses your PC to mine cryptocurrency when you’re visiting a site, utilizing a mining script.
The new form of cyber threat made its mainstream debut in late September, as Showtime’s websites were reported to be found running a script which, when loaded, started mining the cryptocurrency Monero.
Interestingly, a study released by Europol recently named Monero as one of three cryptocurrencies that has risen to top popularity among dark web criminals recently.
Still, as an open-source cryptocurrency focused on decentralization, Monero is useful to many demographics across the world.
It is purchased with cash and is rendered secure, private and untraceable. (See DarkWebNews’ guide on how to use it here.)
With no immediate way of telling whether your CPU is being utilized, this proved to be the perfect platform for hackers to commandeer your machine to make a crypto-profit.
Around the same time as the Showtime exposure, the renowned torrent site The Pirate Bay was also caught utilizing the Coinhive cryptocurrency mining script without user consent, as a means of replacing advertising revenue.
This began to raise questions about the potential that such a model could allow, yet highlighted ethical concerns due to the lack of user consent.
There is currently no way for users to opt in or out of the service.
The Pirate Bay has since removed the offending code, but reports suggest the site may be re-implementing it.
A recent research analysis from AdGuard found that cryptocurrency mining is enacted on the devices of approximately 500 million unsuspecting internet users.
This is a staggering figure. But the good news is that there are ways to avoid being impacted.
Below is an outline of some methods you can take to detect and prevent cryptojacking.
Simply open the resource manager on your computer and check if the browser CPU usage spikes abnormally high. Take note if your CPU usage still spikes after all browsers are closed.
This could indeed be a crypto mining malware situation.
There are a fair amount of ways to help block cryptocurrency mining from taking place. One such way is the use of Chrome extensions, which are small programs that help enhance and modify the functionality of the Chrome web browser.
In this case, two such extensions stand out—No Coin and minerBlock.
No Coin is one of the most trusted and reliable tools to block cryptocurrency mining.
It is open-source and allows whitelisting as well as blocking any suspicious activity by simply blocking a list of blacklisted domains in blacklist.txt.
Similarly, the minerBlock extension also functions by blocking miners all over the sites you visit.
Another method of blocking cryptocurrency mining is with ad blockers. Different browser settings will allow you to manually block certain domains.
You can block particular domains in your host files as well.
While you can protect yourself now from invasive cryptocurrency mining, it is likely this technique may find large-scale mainstream support as site operators search for ways to reduce advertising and increase revenue.
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- Guide to Cryptojacking: What It Is & How to Prevent It - November 22, 2017