Over the last few years, more and more cybercrimes have been taking place concurrently with the evolution of the crypto industry, and one of them is cryptojacking (hidden mining). Studies show that the rate of such attacks in the first half of 2022 jumped 30% compared to the same period last year.
Hidden mining methods have been used by cybercriminals for years: in 2017, the JS/CoinMiner malicious program was detected. 65% of repulsed attacks took place in the Russian Internet. As for the year 2019, according to the Russia’s FSB security agency, hackers infected big data resources of large companies, including websites of government organizations, using mining software.
Hidden mining allows criminals to remain invisible for longer than any other type of fraud. Most users experience slower performance of their devices, but blame it on memory overload or other reasons, rather than seeing it as a result of a computer virus infection.
How cryptojacking works
Hidden mining or cryptojacking is the unauthorized exploitation of a computer or smartphone by hackers as a means of mining cryptocurrency without the owner of the device being aware of the process. Typically, such a pattern is performed by hackers through the injection of a special malicious program – a virus or miner-bot – into the device.
It is possible for such programs to join together into a botnet, a network of malware-infected devices that is controlled by hackers from a centralized location. For such mining to be effective, you usually need to infect multiple computers. That’s why intruders are more likely to focus on large company networks, though PCs and smartphones are also subject to attacks.
Attackers tend to mine cryptocurrencies such as Monero through hidden mining. This coin is anonymous, its transactions cannot be traced. Monero mining can be done on CPUs, that is, using the common processors found in all computers.
In this case, the main task of the malicious user is to install a virus on the victim’s computer. It is most likely that the miner ends up on the device with the help of a dropper, whose function is to stealthily install other programs. Droppers are usually disguised as pirated versions of licensed software found and downloaded by users on file-sharing sites.
Unless antivirus is installed on the device, the malware runs as a hidden program and puts itself into the computer’s autorun. Such viruses often appear as system files and are perceived by users as a necessary part of the software.
Smart viruses adjust to user activity: they can run when the computer is idle and will shut down during heavy workloads. To avoid triggering additional suspicions, viruses do not fully utilize the available capacity of devices.
How to detect the virus
First and foremost, you should pay attention to the performance of your device. If it begins to work incorrectly, namely, the computer starts up slowly, restarts on its own or can not terminate in the usual way, then it can be a sign of a hidden miner. Heavy applications or overheating of the device may expose the virus when you are not launching any programs and not working on it.
Mining requires a lot of CPU and video card power to work. Therefore, a delayed operation of your computer or smartphone can also mean that it is infected with malware. If the Task Manager displays any files that do not respond to the shutdown commands, it is worth checking these programs. As long as your computer or smartphone does not slow down or overheat, most likely there is no malware on it.
Scanning your computer with an anti-virus is sometimes enough to find a hidden miner. Large cybersecurity companies often update their antivirus databases, adding information about mining viruses, among other things. However, if the virus is encrypted using cryptography, the antivirus may not find it.
More dangerous forms of viruses can be installed when using USB flash drives or downloading updates to popular programs from unofficial websites. You may not be able to see such viruses in the Task Manager, which makes it very difficult to find them on your PC.
If you are unable to detect the virus but suspect it is there, check the temperature of your computer or smartphone when the device is not loaded. Besides, you can set the system workload monitoring and track the network traffic, because mining requires a constant connection to the pool.
How to remove malware
The easiest way to remove something like this is to reinstall the OS. Otherwise, it is possible to remove malware by using special killers, by first enabling the display of hidden folders and files on your computer.
There is paid software on the market to protect yourself against cryptojacking. These programs prevent the installation of various viruses and block the domains of many mining pools.
Make sure that your operating system and security software are up to date, so that attackers have less chance of using your hardware. By downloading updates from the official websites of the software manufacturers and removing unnecessary applications, you can also enhance the protection of your devices against both mining viruses and other threats.
Absolutely everyone can stumble upon malware, no matter how well-protected the system seems to be. Thus, you always have to be vigilant about your funds.
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