Have you taken the time to learn about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin? If not, click here to check out Kim's eBook, "Everything you need to know about Bitcoin."
Some investors have made a ton of money over the past couple years this way. When Bitcoin was first introduced in 2010, you could buy one for less than a penny. In December 2017 it surged to over $19,000 per Bitcoin. Think about that. It has fallen back a little since then and it's selling for around $8,370 as I write this.
With most everything digital, cybercriminals have found a way to exploit the cryptocurrency process. In fact, they are targeting your gadgets to help them with their scams. If this malware ends up installed on your system, it could cause it to crash.
Is your gadget at risk?
Cryptocurrencies can be created by cryptomining. It's a way to contribute to the massive computational horsepower and energy needed to maintain and validate a cryptocurrency's transaction network and ledger (such as Bitcoin's blockchains).
Now, cybercriminals are infecting unsuspecting victims' gadgets with malware for the purpose of cryptomining. This scam is a form of cryptojacking.
Cryptojacking is a fairly new method for hackers to generate revenue for themselves at your 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 hijacking your browser or by installing cryptomining malware secretly on your 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.
This is, in essence, what cryptojacking is all about. And with it, some sites may be making cryptocurrencies off your computer without your permission and you won't even get a virtual nickel out of it.
This cryptojacking malware could crash your system
The malware, dubbed "WinstarNssmMiner," actually uses your gadget for cryptomining behind the scenes, without you knowing it's happening.
It was discovered by researchers from 360 Total Security. The malware installs itself on victims' gadgets when they click malicious links in phishing emails or visit websites that have been compromised.
Once installed, it uses your computer's CPU to mine cryptocurrencies. Here's the even worse news. If you realize that your gadget is running slower than normal and try to fix the problem by rebooting, the malware will crash your system.
Plus, if you have anti-virus software that tries to remove WinstarNssmMiner, it will crash your system.
How to prevent these attacks
Also, look out for "typosquatters." These are domains that have mistyped URLs of popular websites. Always double check the URL of websites you are visiting and watch out for mistyped words or extra characters.
Plus, you should always be watching for phishing scams. Do not follow web links in unsolicited email messages, it could be a phishing attack. Cybercriminals always take advantage of popular websites and trending news stories to try and find new victims.
That's why you need to be able to recognize a phishing scam. One thing to watch for with phishing attacks are typos, criminals are typically careless with spelling and grammar. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
Have a question about anything tech related? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question.
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