Bitcoin has been all over the news lately. That's because its value has jumped to unthinkable heights recently.
At the beginning of 2017, you could get a Bitcoin for under $1,000. By the end of 2017, it had skyrocketed to nearly $18,000 per Bitcoin. Can you imagine?
It's not the only cryptocurrency available, in fact, there are too many to speak of. Cryptocurrencies have become so popular that they're posing security issues for many. Microsoft is actually sounding the alarm bells right now.
Cryptominers are everywhere!
If you know anything about cryptocurrencies, you know that there's not an actual coin involved. It's a digital currency that lives on the internet and it's based on an emerging technology called block-chain.
These digital currencies are created through a process called cryptomining. This is basically two functions: adding transactions to the block-chain, and releasing the new digital currency.
(PssT! Feeling lost? Don't worry, listen to my free podcast as I answer the questions you’re too embarrassed to ask and find out the pros and cons of buying and selling Bitcoins.)
The mining process needs a computer along with a special program. Which is where the security issue comes in.
Microsoft recently warned that a massive surge of cryptomining Trojans has been showing up on Windows PCs across the globe. Especially over the past six months. Microsoft is advising businesses to treat this as a serious security threat.
According to Microsoft, an average of over 600,000 computers each month from September 2017 to January 2018 have been exposed to the bug. Not only does the malware allow hackers or sneaky employees to use infected computers for cryptomining, but they could eventually change the payload to something more devious like ransomware.
Windows Defender researcher Jessica Payne recently sent a Tweet stressing the importance of taking cryptomining Trojans seriously.
Image: Tweet describing cryptomining malware threat. (Source: @jepayneMSFT)
What is cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is a method for hackers to generate revenue for themselves at your or a company's expense.
Since cryptomining consumes tons of electrical energy, fraudsters love sourcing out this activity to others. Instead of putting up server farms dedicated to cryptomining, they would rather steal your computing resources to do the heavy lifting for them.
They can do this by installing cryptomining malware secretly on your phone or computer. Think of it as similar to a botnet, except it's used for mining cryptos like Bitcoin or Monero instead of performing denial of service attacks.
Fraudsters can also inject websites with cryptomining malware then redirect or trick users into visiting it.
Signs your gadget has been cryptojacked
Cryptojacking software is meant to run in the background without being detected but there are tell-tale signs that your gadget has been victimized.
You may notice slower than usual internet connections and slower performance. Since cryptomining uses your gadget's processing cycles, it consumes more energy. So you'll probably notice a shorter battery life and it running warmer than usual as well.
Have a question about the cryptojacking? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question, she may use it and answer it on her radio show. The Kim Komando Show is broadcast on over 450 stations. Click here to find the show time in your area.
Speaking of scams here's a clever credit card scam to watch out for
As much as we would like to think we are on top of our credit card bills, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us probably do not pay as much attention as we should. Sure we check our statement and see how much money we owe, but going line by line, purchase by purchase, is something we just don't have time for.