These days, cryptocurrency is all over the headlines.
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Binance Coin, and more have all evolved to help securely and anonymously transfer money from one user to another.
Although the exact science behind cryptocurrency is a bit complicated, they all take a huge amount of computing power to generate. This generation is referred to as crypto “mining.”
So, just how much power does it take to mine cryptocurrency?
Estimates place the energy needs for Bitcoin alone at an incredible .55% of total global energy consumption. To put that into perspective, that’s about the same as the entire country of Sweden.
That’s not a typo. That’s reality. In some places, entire warehouses full of computers are all devoted to the job.
Cryptojacking occurs when an attacker hijacks your computer, installs mining software, and steals your computer’s resources for their own gains. These attacks are designed to fly under the radar, in stark contrast to flashy, painful data breaches.
“These huge attacks grab your attention, and attackers depend on it. Once they have your attention, they’re in a position to capitalize on it.”
How did Japanese insurance giant Tokio Marine and Brazil’s National Treasury discover their ransomware attacks? Attackers noisily shut down computers and demanded a ransom.
How did T-Mobile and AT&T learn that someone exfiltrated millions of customers’ data? The data suddenly appeared for sale on the dark web.
How did China’s Poly Network and Japan’s Liquid cryptocurrency exchange discover someone had access to their systems? Millions of dollars suddenly went missing – in the case of Poly Network, $600 million.
Read that again: Six. Hundred. Million. Dollars.
These huge attacks grab your attention, and attackers depend on it. Once they have your attention, they’re in a position to capitalize on it.
On the other hand, cryptojacking relies on staying subtle and undetected – the longer it takes you to notice, the longer they can continue.
So what do you need to know? Let’s break it down.
How Cryptojacking Works
Cryptojackers use many of the same methods as other attackers, such as phishing, planting viruses, and exploiting software vulnerabilities.
Any and all weaknesses are exploited to some degree or another.
Does a website accept ads without checking for malicious codes? Cryptojackers buy ads and implant viruses into the web browsers of those that visit the site.
Is your small business trying to save money by using outdated routers? Attackers take advantage of bugs that will never be patched.
For example, Google discovered malicious apps in the Google Play Store with hidden cryptomining features, while the HolesWarm botnet compromised over 1,000 cloud host servers.
But not all attacks come from outside sources.
Even company employees have been caught installing extra servers in data centers, mining cryptocurrency while sticking their employer with the electric bill.
Cryptojacking hides in the margins of your business, stealing fractions of your computing power, your electricity, and your bandwidth.
And, since cryptojacking means attackers are already in your systems, you never know what future attacks lie in wait.
Six Signs of Cryptojacking
Even though attackers try to be subtle, there are tell-tale signs of cryptojacking – if you know what to look for.
Usually, the software affects your systems, leaving signs of infection.
These are the six key signs of cryptojacking to watch out for:
- A noticeable slowdown in device performance
- Overheating of batteries on devices
- Devices shutting down due to lack of available processing power
- Reduction in productivity of your device or router
- Unexpected increases in electricity costs
- Hosting or cloud costs have gone up, without usage changes to justify them
Mining cryptocurrency requires a staggering amount of computer power and electricity.
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to document and report them.
How to Prevent Cryptojacking
Because there are so many areas vulnerable to infection, it takes a comprehensive effort to protect against cryptojacking.
For basic endpoint users, install browser extensions designed to block cryptomining, use privacy-focused ad-blockers, and block known cyberjacking websites.
Of course, basic security approaches remain critical. You need to continuously install the latest updates and patches – especially internet-based resources such as browsers, servers, and containers.
Similarly, always monitor your systems for unexpected performance changes in processing speeds, power usage, and response times.
Finance teams can also help by monitoring your web resource invoices, and flag any sudden increases in the billing from cloud vendors or even your electric bills.
In order to catch the six signs of infection, you need to establish the normal baselines of performance, electricity usage, and cloud billing.
You’ll also need to monitor for discrepancies in endpoints, servers, network equipment, and cloud resources.
Some organizations don’t track this information, due to limited budgets or manpower. Fortunately, organizations of all sizes can execute monitoring through outsourcing.
Regardless of the situation you’re in, help is only a phone call away.
As specialists, we can provide the software and the expertise to support the largest enterprise or a resource-strained municipality.
Whether tracking all devices or focusing on specific key assets, Ideal Integrations and Blue Bastion can work with your team to develop a plan to meet your needs. For a no-obligation consultation call us today at 412-349-6680 or fill out the form below.