It just feels like we hear something new about cryptocurrencies everyday, but let us delve into the concept of ‘Cryptojacking’ in this post. Having blogged about cryptocurrencies and blockchain before, here are a few facts about them:
Since bitcoin is based on the blockchain concept, where there is no central authority directing the stakeholders(or miners in Blockchain/Bitcoin lingo), the only way a new block(FYI – a ‘block’ is where transactions are recorded) can be created and agreed upon is by means by of mathematics. This is called ‘mining’, which uses humongous amount of energy. Bitcoin mining can be done by simple software and specialized hardware.
Bitcoin’s current electricity consumption is 46.74 TWh!!(Terawatt hours) (Source: https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption) To put this into perspective, according to one study in April 2018, Bitcoin’s energy consumption numbers were equal to the energy consumption of an entire country like Switzerland! (Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shermanlee/2018/04/19/bitcoins-energy-consumption-can-power-an-entire-country-but-eos-is-trying-to-fix-that/#116123d81bc8)
Having understood that bitcoin mining is heavily energy intensive, we can understand that cyber criminals will look for alternate means to mine cryptocurrencies.
This alternate and malicious way to mine cryptocurrencies is by means of a concept known as ‘Cryptojacking’. ‘Cryptojacking’ unsuspectingly makes use of an innocent person’s computer, tablet, phone or any other connected device to mine cryptocurrencies. The innocent individual is lured by means of suspicious email links or online ads which then runs the mining code in the background and drains your energy for wrong purposes.
The unsuspecting user continues to use his computer/connected without knowing that his connected device is being used for malicious purposes.
They get bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency with minimal effort and electricity usage on their side. They can then use these cryptocurrencies to buy things that they wish.
The only way that we can detect if the cryptomining code is running on our computer is when the computer gets slow or gets heated up.
The current damage caused by ‘Cryptojacking’ may only be slowing down of the device but this malicious attack may evolve further with time and pose a risk to personal and financial information. According to this report from eset.com, cryptojacking may not be slowing in 2019. So, it is necessary to take note of this attack and be knowledgeable about it and guard against it.