Cryptojacking — A major threat to Crypto Currency users

Seize my Bank Account ? I use Bitcoin, Good Luck with that.

Do you use cryptocurrency? Did you ever think that there can be a threat to your cryptocurrency? If you did not, here is the answer…. YES!!! There is a major threat to cryptocurrency users. To summarize, cryptojacking is the practice of mining cryptocurrency from another person’s computer without their permission. Attackers do this specially for financial purposes, but in rare situations there can be other reasons too. In the following blog I am going to discuss about ‘Cryptojacking’.

Cryptojacking is a cyberattack which can insensibly attack to your cryptocurrencies with an unauthorized access with their computers, tablets, mobile phones or any other device. Cryptojacking attacks can be done by various ways. Hackers can send a malicious link within an email to the victim’s device and let the victim to click that malicious link. Then it loads crypto mining code on your device.

The other technique is by infecting a website or online advertisement with JavaScript code that executes automatically once the victim’s browser is mounted.

In any case, the cryptomining code runs in the background as unsuspecting victims go about their daily lives. The only way you can notice that your device Is under a cryptojacking attack, is your device is getting slow and lag in unfortunate times.

As previously mentioned, an attacker may use one of the two techniques to perform cryptojacking. First one is, using a malicious email. This email appears to be legitimate, but the attacker has included a malicious connection. Without suggesting that the code is malicious, the attacker asks the user to click the connection. The crypto mining code that places the cryptomining script on the victim’s computer runs automatically when the victim clicks on that connection. The script then executes on the victim’s computer in the same way as the victim does. As a result, this is a phishing assault.

There is another technique too. In this technique, the attackers can infect a website or an online advertisement with JavaScript code that executes automatically when the victim’s browser is mounted. In this approach the attacker inserts a script or an ad that is sent to several website. The malicious code runs automatically when the victim visits that website or clicks on that advertising. There is no code contained in the victim’s computer in this case.

Regardless of the method used, the attacker would run a complex mathematical code in the victim’s computer, allowing the attacker to take control of the device.

The severity of this assault lies in the fact that the attacker can infect other computers on the same network. This aggravates the situation because it is difficult to spot as well as extract. With the goal of spreading across a network, cryptomining code can include multiple versions to account for different architectures on the same network.

The script will determine if the system has previously been infected with cryptomining code. If this is the case, the script will disable the cryptomining code. This also has a kill-prevention mechanism.

It is not stealing or harming the data of the victim or the device, but it is stealing CPU processing power. This can be harmful to both users and the company’s efficiency.

Cryptomining codes are difficult to detect and even more difficult to delete from a system. However, we can avoid cryptojacking by following good practices.

We must be vigilant about such assaults. As previously stated, a malicious code can enter our devices via phishing attacks. As a result, if we think twice before clicking those codes, the attacker’s attempt to cryptojack you or your business would be unsuccessful. It is important to prepare your coworkers to deal with such circumstances so that your organization is never subjected to cryptojacking attacks.

Email was the first method I mentioned above for delivering cryptomining codes to your computer. We may also use anti-cryptomining extensions to protect ourselves from cryptojacking attacks. Cryptomining scripts are often delivered via web browsers. As a result, when you use anti-cryptomining extensions, the cryptominers will be blocked.

Advertisements were the second method I mentioned above for attackers to send cryptomining codes to our devices. As a result, using ad-blockers is a successful countermeasure for preventing cryptojacking. It has the ability to both detect and block malicious cryptomining codes.

To protect yourself from cryptojacking attacks, you have to disable JavaScript. However, it will prohibit you from using certain other functions since it will block those functions.

It is not difficult to protect ourselves from cryptojacking attacks if we follow the above countermeasures.

Examples from the real world…

Have you ever been a victim of a crytojacking attack? Thousands of cryptojacking attacks have occurred recently. Some of them are mentioned below.

Palo Alto Networks published a study in October that outlined a cryptojacking botnet with self-spreading capabilities. Graboid is the first cryptomining worm that has been discovered. This spreads by finding docker engine deployments.

A cryptojacking scheme employs the use of docker images on the Docker Hub network to distribute cryptomining applications to the victims’ computers. Palo Alto Networks discovered this in June 2020.

Cryptojackers were using GitHub as a host for cryptomining malware, according to Avast software. The malware is hidden in the forked project directory, which they construct from the legitimate project.

Many people already use cryptocurrencies for a variety of purposes. We must safeguard cryptocurrencies because they, like traditional currencies, face threats. Cryptojackers are astute enough to mine cryptocurrencies without the device owner’s awareness. Jarkko Turkulainen once said “Instead of offering you a trojan or ransomware, they use your machine, your CPU, your electricity and turn that into money.”

As a result, we can conclude that understanding what cryptojacking is, how it works, and how to combat it, is a good idea.

Written By/ Helani Herath -2nd Year 1st Semester -Cyber Security Student at SLIIT

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