• Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s compute resources to mine cryptocurrency.
  • Hackers seek to hijack any kind of systems they can take over—desktops, servers, cloud infrastructure, and more—to illicitly mine for crypto coins.
  • In most cases, the malicious programme is installed when the user clicks on an unsafe link, or visits an infected website — and unknowingly provides access to their Internet-connected device.
  • Regardless of the delivery mechanism, cryptojacking code typically works quietly in the background as unsuspecting victims use their systems normally. The only signs they might notice is slower performance, lags in execution, overheating, excessive power consumption, or abnormally high cloud computing bills.
  • Cryptocurrency mining is lucrative but still involves huge costs, diminishing the attractiveness. To balance the cost overruns, attackers have started employing malware. It is a way to force an entry into the computers of remote users and then using their hardware to mine for coins. It is profitable since it eliminates the cost burden of owning a mining assembly with hundreds of processors.

Who are vulnerable?

  • The phenomenon is not restricted to the miniscule minority that trades in cryptocurrencies or uses their systems to mine for coins.
  • All users who browse the internet are vulnerable to their systems being ‘cryptojacked’.
  • Desktops, laptops, tablets, or even mobile devices can be maliciously subverted without the knowledge of their owners.

How does crptojacking work?

  • Cryptojackers usually target popular websites which draw audiences numbering in the millions every day.
  • Once the malware patch has been embedded on a website, it infects the web browsers of visitors.
  • It slows down their machines, often causing them to overheat.
  • Websites and apps that do not charge a fee for consuming their content survive on revenue from digital advertising.
  • However, websites like the file-sharing platform have been found to be employing code which hijacks users’ system.
  • It then uses it for mining cryptocurrency.
  • Many websites view this as an alternative source of revenue, bypassing intrusive advertisements.

Why is cryptojacking a concern? 

  • Cryptojacking is hard to detect and the victims of these attacks mostly remain unaware that their systems have been compromised. Some telltale signs are the device slowing down, heating up or the battery getting drained faster than usual.