The number of online scams committed each year is hitting unprecedented levels. While cybercrimes were increasing before the Covid-19 pandemic, they have started spiraling out of control since the pandemic began.
The last two years have shown an increase at an alarming rate as the world relies on working online, at home, and without the right resources more than ever. Added to this, cybercriminals are coming up with more and more creative ways to take advantage of people online or sidestep security measures, and you have a very serious situation indeed.
One area which has seen an increase in cybercrime is the crypto world. While stealing crypto is nowhere near as easy as hacking into a regular bank account or taking someone’s wallet out of their bag, it is still an area that any trader or investor of crypto needs to be aware of.
Your assets are safe but not always 100%, and while you may have several security steps in place and use a dependable digital wallet solution, there is one crypto crime that many people are still unwittingly ignorant of: cryptojacking.
What Is Cryptojacking?
In brief, cryptojacking is a cybercrime that involves scammers using people’s devices such as their computer, tablet, or phone without them knowing. They use these devices, or even the victim’s server to mine for cryptocurrency. Like more or less all cybercrime, the end goal is financial gain for the scammer and a loss for you.
From the Top
You’ll likely already be well aware of what cryptocurrency is. These digital tokens and coins are a form of unregulated digital currency. The most famous is, of course, Bitcoin, although there are currently several thousand now available to mine and trade.
As many stories have shown, there is a lot of money to be made in cryptocurrency and this is just yet another avenue for cybercriminals to explore and take advantage of.
Transactions for cryptos take place on the blockchain. The blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems. This network is constantly updated, validated, and safely processes all the transactions.
The blockchain is also where new Bitcoin is mined and released. When the complex mathematical puzzle is solved, the “winning” miner validates the block and collects the rewards - in this case, the Bitcoin within the block, for example.
However, mining takes a fair amount of mining equipment and a heck of a lot of computing power. The kind of rig equipment and computing power that most people don’t have access to or cannot afford to buy.
Not to mention the cost of electricity, since the Bitcoin network currently uses over 73TWh of energy per year, you have to be willing and able to fund that cost as well.
The specialist equipment and sky-high costs are exactly the reason why cryptojacking began in the first place. This is the perfect way for criminals to mine for crypto without spending a cent. Think of it like a neighbor plugging their home’s electronics into your home’s outlets leaving you to fund the cost of powering their home.
Except what makes cryptojacking worse is unlike the unethical neighbor, cryptojacking happens so stealthily that victims can seldom tell it’s happening to them.
How Do Criminals Gain Access with Cryptojacking?
For cryptojacking to take place, a criminal needs to hack into one of your devices using a special kind of software. Once this software is on your phone, tablet, or computer, it’ll run in the background. It will mine for new crypto or work on stealing crypto out of any available wallets you have.
While the victim may notice a slight decrease in speed on their device, there isn’t much else that will alert them to what’s happening.
There are two main ways that a criminal will use it in order to use a victim’s device:
- Coercing the victim to click on a malicious email which then adds the code to the device
While one option is sometimes used, most of the time the hacker will use both scenarios. After all, they have a better chance of being successful if they use both options at their disposal.
If they do manage to succeed, with either one, the software will run a script. This script will then run complex mathematical problems on the target’s device and send all the resulting information back to a server that is in the control of the hacker.
What is unusual about this form of cybercriminal activity is unlike most other hacking scams, this one does zero damage to the victim’s device. Since the hacker needs the device to be in full working order, there is no reason for them to needlessly cause harm.
Nonetheless, for both individuals and businesses, this scam can incur other negative results, including:
- High electricity cost
- Extra use of IT helpdesk or IT professionals to try and solve lagging or slowing devices
- The Lost time when trying to fix the issue
- Lost crypto if they are stolen from a wallet
Early Versions of Legal Cryptojacking
Believe it or not, in the past, cryptojacking was carried out by some websites both legally and with the permission of the other party. As an easy way to monetize website traffic, some web publishers asked the visitors’ permission if they could mine for crypto while the visitor browsed their site.
The website publishers deemed this to be a fair and open trade. They could mine for crypto and the visitor could obtain some kind of free content while browsing.
This setup worked, for the most part, for several reasons.
One; the visitors’ permission was always asked and if permission was not granted then the website honored this.
Two; the websites that carried out this process were completely transparent, visitors knew exactly which sites partook.
Three; as soon as the visitor left the webpage, the mining stopped.
No one has to worry about the website carrying on after they had left or doing anything nefarious in the background. Of course, the reason why it did mostly stop is that while the majority of sites followed the rule above, a few didn’t.
And once the trust was broken, visitors stopped trusting all sites. Some sites started illegally cryptojacking and the problem only got worse and worse.
Protect Yourself Against Cryptojacking
There are some relatively simple steps you can follow to protect yourself against cryptojacking. You should always make your devices as secure as possible because while it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “it’ll never happen to me”, it can always happen to you.
1. Use a Cybersecurity Program
Cybersecurity programs such as antivirus software and ones that specifically have cryptojacking malware protection will give you the best results. It’s better to have these kinds of programs on your device and never need it than not have one and need it after the fact when it’s too late.
2. Stay Up to Date
Keeping all your software, operating system and browser up to date will help your device be in super working order. These updates are there to fix bugs, increase security, and upgrade features, so they’ll always be beneficial to your device even if the time it takes to update it all can be a little annoying.
3. Install Ad Blocker
The vast majority of cryptojacking scripts are hidden in online ads. Therefore, having an ad blocker is an easy and effective solution. The ad blocker will not only stop these ads from showing in the first place but they can also often detect the malicious code and warn you.
5. Block Necessary Pages
Some websites are well known for illegally cryptojacking. If you discover a site that does or you learn about one from others, add it to your device’s blocklist so you cannot ever use it by mistake.
6. Choose Your Browser Extensions Carefully
NoCoin, minerBlock, and Anti Miner are all browser extensions that are specialized in blocking cryptojacking. Since the cryptojacking scripts are normally released via web browsers, this can often provide yet another layer of security to your device.
7. Be Knowledgeable
The more you know about a problem, the better equipped you are to avoid it. So, be proactive in learning about cryptojacking, what it entails, how it occurs, and what methods cybercriminals use. If you know what to look for then you can stay one step ahead.
Can You Detect Cryptojacking?
While detecting cryptojacking can be incredibly difficult, after all, the whole purpose of the scam is to ensure the victim cannot know what’s happening, there are a few telltale signs to look out for. If these happen, there may be a simple explanation, however, it’s always best to double-check.
Because cryptojacking is so intensive when it comes to using the device’s resources, the device often overheats. And overheating can then lead to a broken or damaged device. If you notice your computer, phone, or tablet getting hotter than usual more often than usual then you may have cryptojacking software running in the background.
2. Decreased Performance
One of the first signs will be a decreased performance. Technology nowadays is light years ahead of what it used to be. And while a decade ago a phone or computer would last a few months before it started to slow, devices can now last years before they experience any kind of performance issues.
If your computer or other device starts to slow, struggles to process simple commands, crashes, or freezes more than what you would expect then you should check if you’ve been hacked. You may also notice your battery running down more quickly than normal despite using it for the same amount of time.
3. Usage of Central Processing Unit (CPU)
If you’re surfing a site with a low amount of media but you notice any kind of increase in the CPU usage then this could mean that you’ve been hacked by a cryptojacker. If your computer is working overtime when you are using it for something relatively basic then something is obviously wrong.
If you suspect that you may have been cryptojacked then you can run a test by checking your CPU usage while checking the Activity Monitor. This will give you a good idea of whether something is out of place or not.
As an additional point, if you also notice an increase in your electricity costs for seemingly no reason then it’s time to check your computer for any signs of cryptojacking. While an increase in electricity costs isn’t always that abnormal, you should have a rough idea of how much you pay each month ordinarily.
If your bill jumps $5 then it’s more likely that the overall cost has increased slightly for everyone or you have used a little more than normal. But if your bill jumps $100+, then it’s time to look into what the problem is.
Do It the Right Way
Cryptojacking is not a victimless crime. It’s not a harmless scam that victims never know about. It can cost victims real money, their crypto, and a lot of stress and time. Crytpojacking is just as serious as other cybercrimes and the more interest that crypto receives, the more interest criminals will have in hacking.
However, if you’re interested in mining for cryptocurrency the right way then we can help you change your future with our legal, secure, and trusted mining pool.
What Is a Mining Pool?
A mining pool is a group of people who collectively agree to pool their resources and share the profits.
For example, have you ever split the cost of a bunch of lottery tickets with work colleagues or friends with the agreement that if one of the tickets wins you all share the prize? While you might have to share the prize, there is more chance of you winning in the first place. After all, it’s far better to share $1 million, than it is to keep 100% of nothing.
Well, a mining pool works in the same way. The group of miners will collectively use their resources to create more mining power. The more mining power you have, the higher the chance is that you will generate a block on the blockchain and therefore, receive the reward.
One of the best parts of joining a mining pool is that you don’t have to match other investors. The reward is divided relative to how much power each member contributed. This means you don’t have to be stinking rich or own a ton of resources in the first place. You simply take out proportional to what you put in.
Invest In Your Future with Mining Syndicate
If you would like any more information about starting or expanding your Bitcoin horizon; reach out to us at Mining Syndicate. Our mission is simple: Strengthen the Bitcoin network by enabling small-scale miners to affordably purchase and reliably host miners.
As a small miner, Chris became frustrated by the lack of hosting options available for miners with under 100 units. As luck would have it, he found a 2.5MW mining facility for sale right down the road, and thus, Mining Syndicate was born. Facilities #2 and #3 are already in the works.
Why is Mining Syndicate so successful? Because we have a team of people who are just like you, eager to be a part of the future of mining. If you would like more information about how you can be a part of Mining Syndicate, how our facility works, or the products we sell, you can reach out to us here.
We look forward to hearing from you - together we are stronger!