Mining crypto

Explained: What is cryptojacking, cyberattacks carried out by crypto miners?

Cryptojacking attacks on computer systems rose 30% to 66.7 million in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of last year, according to a report by SonicWall, a US-based cybersecurity firm. United.

“While volume increases were widespread, some business sectors were hit harder than others, such as the financial sector, which saw a 269% increase,” the report said.

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is a cyberattack in which a computing device is hijacked and controlled by the attacker, and its resources are used to illicitly mine cryptocurrency. In most cases, the malware gets installed when the user clicks on a dangerous link or visits an infected website, and unknowingly provides access to their internet-connected device.

Why is cryptojacking practiced?

Coin mining is a legitimate and competitive process used to bring new crypto coins into circulation or to verify new transactions. It involves solving complex computational problems to generate blocks of verified transactions that are added to the blockchain. The reward for the first miner who successfully updates the crypto ledger this way is crypto coins.

But the race to crack this 64-digit hexadecimal numeric code requires massive computing power involving state-of-the-art hardware and power to keep the systems involved operational.

Cryptojackers co-opt devices, servers and cloud infrastructure and use their resources for mining. Using “stolen” or cryptojacked resources significantly reduces mining costs.

Why have cryptojacking incidents increased?

According to SonicWall’s Cyber ​​Threat Report, cracking down on ransomware attacks is forcing cybercriminals to look for alternative methods. Cryptojacking involves “lower risk” and promises “potentially higher payoff”.

Terry Greer-King, vice president for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) at SonicWall, told Tech Monitor that cryptojacking is an attractive alternative for cybercriminal gangs because “it has less chance of be detected by the victim; unsuspecting users around the world are seeing their devices become inexplicably slower, but it’s hard to tie it to criminal activity, let alone the source.”

“Unlike ransomware, which advertises its presence and relies heavily on communicating with victims, cryptojacking can succeed without the victim ever being aware of it,” the report states.

Why should this be a concern?

Cryptojacking is difficult to detect and most victims of these attacks are unaware that their systems have been compromised. Some telltale signs are that the device is slowing down, heating up, or the battery is draining faster than usual.

Apart from individuals, companies are also on the target list of cryptojackers. According to the report, cryptojacking incidents targeting the retail sector have increased by 63% since the start of the year, while similar attacks against the financial sector have skyrocketed by 269%.

“The main impact of cryptojacking is performance-related, although it can also increase costs for the individuals and businesses involved, as coin mining uses high levels of electricity and computing power,” says Interpol. .