What Is Cryptojacking? How To Define, Explain & Prevent It

what is cryptojacking and how it works

Usually, hackers will spoof an email that looks like it comes from your bank or another important company you’re not likely to ignore. The email will encourage you to click on a link, which then downloads cryptomining software onto your computer. Cryptojacking works similarly to most well-known malware attacks like Trojan horses and ransomware. All hackers have to do is trick you into opening malicious code, and your computer will instantly be turned into their crypto gold mine. Cryptocurrency mining, or cryptomining, is the process that determines the order of transactions in a cryptocurrency ledger. These two transactions can’t both be valid, because they reference the same inputs to demonstrate sufficient funds (remember, inputs can’t be reused).

So if one’s PC or Mac is slowing down or uses its cooling fan more than the usual amount, one may be a victim of cryptojacking. Cryptojacking refers to the unauthorized use of people’s devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, or servers – to mine cryptocurrency. In other words, a person’s computer is secretly or illegally used to mine cryptocurrency without the person’s consent or knowledge.


In a cryptojacking attack, hackers “hijack” the processing capabilities of users’ devices to illegally “mine” for cryptocurrencies. (Hence the clever name.) In some cases, they steal previously mined cryptocurrencies from the targets’ crypto wallets. These are used to access cloud services and harness those resources to power their cryptomining activities. It is used as currency to exchange online for goods and services. Cryptocurrency can be purchased or earned through cryptomining, which involves using a computer to solve complex, encrypted math equations, or hashes, in return for units of currency.

In-browser cryptojacking uses JavaScript on a web page to mine for cryptocurrencies. Below, you’ll find out more about in-browser cryptojacking and how to protect yourself.

Originally intended and still used as a legitimate website monetization tool, Coinhive’s mining code is currently the world’s largest cryptojacking threat. One interesting fact is that the company responsible for Coinhive nets 30 percent of all mining operations, even hacked instances. These malicious tools hijack those devices’ valuable resources without their owners’ consent or knowledge. They can use these compromised devices as part of larger cryptojacking botnets. But as with many good things in life, cybercriminals like to twist this solution and use it to their advantage — and this is when SIM swapping attacks occur. In this type of attack, cybercriminals impersonate you and trick or manipulate one of your phone carrier’s employees into thinking that they’re performing a legitimate SIM swap for you. In some cases, they might even have someone on the inside that they’re paying or blackmailing into doing these SIM swaps for them.


Email is the number one vector for infecting computer systems with malware. Healthcare Data Security Today, electronic healthcare data exists at every point along a patient’s journey. So frequently is it being processed, accessed, and shared between multiple providers, that we’d be forgiven for forgetting the highly … It may seem like a small detail, but having an accurate and agreed-upon order of transactions is absolutely crucial if the system is to work. To understand why, consider what would happen if Person A had a balance of $1000, and then made two separate $1000 transactions, one to Person B, and another to Person C, at roughly the same time.

what is cryptojacking and how it works

Open PGP Studio is a PGP encryption tool you can download free online. File Transfer Automation Build automated workflows to move files effortlessly between internal systems, users, and trading partners. Managed File Transfer Simplify data security, automation, server-to-server MFT file transfers, and more. Amanda Jackson has expertise in personal finance, investing, and social services. She is a library professional, transcriptionist, editor, and fact-checker. Full BioErika Rasure, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Business and Finance at Maryville University.

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Additionally, arming yourself with a VPN is a key defense mechanism against cryptojackers and other kinds of digital threats. VPNs encrypt internet connections and hide IP addresses, keeping you and/or your organization safer and anonymous in the online world. One of the main ways cryptojackers work to enslave devices is through traditional malware techniques, such as a link or attachment in an email.

Monero is a digital currency that offers a high level of anonymity for users and their transactions. WannaMine was originally discovered by Panda Security in October 2017.

How To Detect Cryptojacking

If, for any reason, one or more employees complain about having really slow computers, it might be best to have them checked out. Cryptojacking rose to fame in 2017 when the well-known cryptocurrency Bitcoin was booming.

On-site services provided only if issue can’t be corrected remotely. Devoted Mac user and tech writer with over 5 years experience in supporting Apple users. Secure your digital life and benefit from all the perks of the internet without worrying that your personal information has been exposed for the whole world to see. HelpSystems Products Improve your security and automation with HelpSystems.

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Bitcoin mining now consumes 0.5 percent of the world’s electricity, and usage is rising, according to the researchers. … Their study demonstrates that because of bitcoin mining’s power usage, households paid an additional $165 million a year in energy costs, while businesses paid an extra $79 million.

Cryptocurrency control is decentralized and distributed by means of a blockchain ledger. The ledger is protected by complex cryptography humans cannot break without the assistance of sophisticated computing power. Cryptojacking has quickly become one the most common forms of malware. It stands out from typical malware in that it isn’t necessarily after your data, it’s targeting your processing power. This processing power is used to mine cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The modern cryptojacking attack does not focus solely on mining cryptocurrency.

And when a system is running at maximum capacity, it can make troubleshooting incredibly difficult. An alternative method is to use what is known as drive-by crypto mining. This threat embeds a piece of JavaScript code onto a website and activates a mining process on any user machines that visit a particular webpage. Cryptojacking is the malicious use of a person or persons’ computing power to mine cryptocurrencies without consent. Another type of cryptojacking attack takes place in the cloud, where attackers first steal credentials and then install their scripts into the cloud environment. Some types of cryptocurrency are easier to mine than others, and these are the favorites of hackers. Monero, for instance, can be mined on any desktop, laptop, or server, while mining Bitcoin requires expensive specialized hardware.

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Cryptojacking is one major threat if you use major cloud computing platforms like AWS or Google Cloud Platform. “These cloud platforms have gigantic computational power which attracts cryptominers,” said Patrick Smith of FireStickTricks, a cybersecurity expert. One example of cryptocurrency-mining malware being used in an IoT environment is DroidMiner. In the same forum, another actor offered a Monero miner for routers, which could accommodate different architectures. However, he was immediately attacked by another member, citing that the software was not worth anything, given the lack of processing power in routers. If you notice a decrease in performance in your computing devices then make sure to run checks. Slower systems are usually the first sign that crypto mining is taking place.

what is cryptojacking and how it works

I did leave the Coinhive miner on one of my subpages as a proof-of-concept, but I don’t think it provides a good experience for folks visiting a web site. Ray is a software engineer and data enthusiast who has been blogging for over a decade. You’ll usually find him wrangling data, programming and lifehacking.

What Is A Cryptojacking Attack?

Malware is used to gain access to computers or mobile devices for use in cryptomining for cryptocurrency. Downloading antivirus scanners, like Bitdefender, will help you identify cryptomining malware on your hardware. Cryptomining scripts aren’t detected as malware by antivirus programs but if they get on your hardware through phishing techniques they can be detected. This detection is why a reliable antivirus program is critical to protecting your devices from cryptojacking. You may think you won’t become a victim of cryptojacking because you don’t have enough computing power but this isn’t the case.

Criminals use all sorts of tricks and tactics to achieve their sinister goals. New criminal tactics have emerged in the form of an online threat known as cryptojacking. The second method is when cryptojackers infect an online ad or website with JavaScript code, which is executed as soon as the website or ad has been opened. This method utilizes someone’s internet connection to mine cryptocurrency. Once the malware has been installed or executed, it gets to work mining. Because this malware is programmed to work in the background, generally, device owners don’t notice that anything is wrong, other than their computer suddenly running a little slower than usual.

Cryptojacking works by either using malware or doing what is referred to as drive-by cryptomining. When a hacker uses malware, a portion of your computer is taken over and controlled, similar to what happens with ransomware.

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And, since cryptojacking means attackers are already in your systems, you never know what future attacks lie in wait. 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. Cryptojackers What is cryptojacking buy ads and implant viruses into the web browsers of those that visit the site. 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.

Its aim is not to steal or exploit personal data or damage your computer but “just” to use its processing power. However, cryptojacking is still a crime and can have other consequences for victims beyond what you’d typically expect. Hackers began deploying CoinHive-based cryptojacking malware to attack and steal from unsuspecting users’ crypto wallets. But crypto mining at scale takes a lot of computational power — and that’s in part because cryptocurrencies themselves consume a lot of electricity.

  • Instead, cybercriminals add a couple of lines of JavaScript to a website, and any system that loads the website will start mining.
  • A recent academic study revealed that embedded cryptocurrency miner Coinhive is generating $250,000 worth of Monero every month.
  • So why would anyone agree to ship a new iPhone in exchange for .12 bitcoin, or allow you to use their Airbnb rental for 10 monero per week?
  • Coinhive is no longer in operation, but it’s worth examining because it played an integral role in the rise of the cryptojacking threat.

Check out our FAQ below to read some of the most commonly asked questions about cryptojacking. Black-T targets AWS customers by using exposed Docker daemon APIs. The malware is also capable of using scanning tools to identify other exposed Docker daemon APIs in order to expand its cryptojacking operations further. Privacy should not be contested, bartered, nor political, but rather a basic human right. Privacy Bee is on a mission to give consumers a voice, centralizing their privacy preferences and enforcing them using any privacy laws available. Only download extensions and software programs from trusted providers. Discover today’s top cybersecurity risks, and what you can do to avoid them and stay ahead of the curve.

The threat of cryptojacking extends from petty thieves to global crime syndicates; in the event of an attack, learning what happened may prevent it from happening again. Compromised systems are used to provide power and compute resources for cryptomining. Cryptomining bots commonly enslave multiple systems, creating a botnet that mines for cryptocurrency. If you’ve discovered that there is a cryptomining script on your system you should delete this file as soon as possible. This will prevent cryptocurrency mining from happening on your hardware causing your system’s resources to slow down and compromising your personal data. If you own a website and want to see if it’s been infected by malware, check for filenames such as ccminer.exe. All crypto-related names that don’t look familiar could indicate that your website’s security has been cryptojacked for cryptocurrency mining.

BitCoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, came into being back in 2009. Since then, the topic of cryptocurrency has become a big interest to investors and cybercriminals alike. According to coinmarketcap.com, there are now 7,487 cryptocurrencies in existence with a cap market value that surpasses $397 billion (as of Oct. 23, 2020).

Cryptojacking has become almost impossible to protect yourself from online. This is mostly because you don’t have any control over the files that are installed on other websites. Even with this in mind, there are some security steps you can take to ensure your chances of being cryptojacked are as small as possible. You can also install ad-blocking and anti-cryptomining extensions for your web browser.

Author: William Watts