With the exceptional success we've seen lately by Bitcoin investors, I'm sure that you've at least heard of cryptocurrencies. A Bitcoin is a digital currency, a.k.a. cryptocurrency, that lives on the internet. There is no physical "coin" anywhere, just a string of numbers.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero are created by a process known as cryptomining. Simply put, cryptomining is a way to contribute to the massive computational horsepower and energy needed to maintain and validate a cryptocurrency's transaction network and ledger (called the blockchain). This is a perfectly legal way to earn cryptocurrencies, by the way.
Unfortunately, scammers have found a way to take advantage of the process. In fact, your gadgets are at risk of being infected by malware that helps them steal your processing power.
Hackers are targeting your gadgets
Since cryptocurrencies do not have central governing bodies like regular currencies have with banks, they require the public's help to secure it. As an incentive, "cryptocurrency miners" can earn extra cryptocurrency by contributing computing resources to the blockchain.
Cryptomining is difficult by design and it requires "miners" to solve extremely complex math equations. This activity needs tons of computer processing and of course, the hardware that performs it consumes a lot of electrical energy. Which is why hackers are targeting your gadgets to steal your processing power. This is known as "cryptojacking."
Now, Netskope Threat Research Labs has discovered new Monero mining malware dubbed "Xbooster." The malware is hidden on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon's cloud service, and is infecting unsuspecting victims' computers that use any Windows operating system (OS). If infected, your computer's processing power is used to mine Monero.
It's estimated that the cybercriminals behind the attack have been able to harvest nearly $100,000 worth of Monero already. However, it's a growing threat and that number is expected to rise significantly soon.
Signs that your computer has been cryptojacked
Cryptojacking software is meant to run in the background without being detected but there are tell-tale signs that a website or your computer has it.
You may notice slower than usual internet connections and slower computer performance. Since cryptomining uses your computer's processing cycles, it consumes more energy so you'll notice a shorter battery life or a higher electricity bill.
Watch out for sudden spikes in the computer's CPU activity via Window's Task Manager or Activity Monitor on Macs and kill any unknown programs that are using up abnormally high resources.
How to prevent cryptojacking 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.
Have a question about cryptojacking or anything tech related? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question.
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