AMU Cyber & AI Original

Cryptojacking: A Rising Threat to Company Computers

By Susan Hoffman

Proper protection of an organization’s servers, computers, and mobile devices requires constant vigilance and education. New threats are emerging all the time as hackers become more and more sophisticated; some attackers are even using machine learning and artificial intelligence to make their attacks more effective.

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One particular rising threat is cryptojacking – the practice of secretly invading and using another person’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. According to Ivacy’s Kashif Yaqoob, the use of cryptojacking has exploded. Yaqoob predicts, “We will undoubtedly see more threats in 2019, particularly as the value of cryptocurrencies escalates.”

How Cryptojacking Works

Michael Nadeau, a senior editor of Chief Security Officer, notes that cryptojacking works in two ways. One method that attackers use is to send an email with a link that encourages the recipient to click on it. Once the link is clicked, it runs a code that places a cryptomining script on the victim’s computer; the script runs silently while the victim works on the computer.

Another method is to add a script to a website or pop-up ad. The script runs automatically when the victim visits the website or when the infected ad appears in the victim’s browser. This method does not require code to be stored on a victim’s computer.

According to Nadeau, “the code runs complex mathematical problems on the victims’ computers and sends the results to a server that the hacker controls.”

Often, an end user will notice that an infected computer slows down and experiences a drop in performance. This can be a particular problem for workplace efficiency, and eliminating the script from infected computers is time-consuming for IT professionals.

Preventing Cryptojacking Infections

Nadeau points out that there are several ways to protect your organization from cryptojacking:

  • Install ad blockers
  • Use antivirus software
  • Install web filters
  • Keep browser extensions updated
  • Use a mobile device management solution
  • Check your own websites for cryptojacking scripts
  • Stay aware of the most recent trends in cryptojacking

The best tool to prevent cryptojacking, however, is education. Be sure that your employees remain aware of this cybersecurity threat and how they can keep it off their computers and mobile devices.

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Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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