Cryptojacking Alert! Miners using your computational power to earn money

Over the last few years, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have gained a lot of popularity, so it is perhaps unsurprising that it becomes an attractive target for hackers.

Cryptojacking is defined as the secret use of your computing device to mine cryptocurrency.

“Cryptojacking attack hits 4000 websites”, says TechCrunch. In a recent study, it was found that more than half-a-million machines were infected by cryptojacking, mostly in Russia, India, and Taiwan.

Among recent high profile targets was a public Wi-Fi at a Starbucks, where the suspicious code was found that turned’ visitors devices into money makers for crooks. Noah Dinkin, chief executive of email provider Stensul, raised the alarm after visiting one of the coffee shop’s franchises in Buenos Aires. He discovered that anyone who connected to the store’s hotspot was at risk of having their gadgets put to work mining Monero, another digital currency. Writing on Twitter, he said: “Hi @Starbucks @StarbucksAr did you know that your in-store wifi provider in Buenos Aires forces a 10-second delay when you first connect to the wifi so that it can mine bitcoin using a customer’s laptop?” Starbucks was quick to respond and took action with a third-party Wifi supplier to remove the malicious code. A spokesman said: “We want to ensure that our customers are able to search the internet over Wi-Fi securely, so we will always work closely with our service provider when something like this comes up. We don’t have any concern that this is widespread across any of our stores.”

Starbucks is by no means the only firm to be affected by the issue, with numerous companies and home users believed to be infected. In September, cryptocurrency miners were found running on websites owned by Showtime, The Pirate Bay, Politifact and the UFC. 

In recent days it emerged that video streaming sites like Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo, and OnlineVideoConverter have also been affected, according to security firm Adguard. Almost 1 billion visitors to the four popular video sites each month are being unknowingly mining cryptocurrency, the firm says. The mining program loads in a user’s browser when the video player is downloaded ready to stream the video. 

How do you know if you’ve been hit? 
Cryptojacking used to only happen when a victim unknowingly installed a malware program that covertly mines cryptocurrency. In-browser cryptojacking uses JavaScript code, used to run most websites, on a web page to mine for cryptocurrencies. That means the malicious code responsible for in-browser mining loads when the web page is accessed. You may also be a victim of cryptojacking if you happen to click on a malicious link in an email that loads crypto mining code on the computer. By anyway, the crypto mining code then runs in the background and victims are unaware of it. 

If the mining is being limited to stay below a certain threshold, you may not even notice it’s happening. But if the mining is not being throttled, you will likely notice some impact on performance. Many users who have been hit notice slower speeds, usually caused by a drain on their CPU. You may also notice cooling fans on laptops and desktops whirring up to high speed to compensate for the jump in activity. 

How to protect yourselves from Cryptojacking?
You can stop browser mining and protect yourselves from Cryptojacking by installing extensions either on Chrome or Firefox. The recommended extensions are mentioned below:

1. MinerBlock and NoCoin for Chrome
2. NoCoin and NoScript Security Suite for Firefox

After installing this, no coin miner will be able to take advantage of your CPU.  

In a blog post, Andrew Meshkov, co-founder of the company said: "We came across several very popular websites that secretly use the resources of users’ devices for cryptocurrency mining. The total monthly earnings from cryptojacking, taking into account the current Monero rate, can reach $326,000. "

These statistics are really huge and it is our responsibility to not to allow cryptojacking. So go and install these extensions now!

If you happen to know other extensions or ways to stop cryptojacking, do share with us in comments!

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Cryptojacking Alert! Miners using your computational power to earn money Cryptojacking Alert! Miners using your computational power to earn money Reviewed by StalkOwl on May 30, 2018 Rating: 5

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