Cryptocurrency Mining: How Hackers Hijack Your PC to Make Free Money

Cryptocurrency Mining: How Hackers Hijack Your PC to Make Free Money

You may be helping hackers create free money.

If you experienced a unexpected druppel of spectacle when visiting Politifact on Friday, it wasgoed most likely because the popular fact-checking webstek wasgoed quick busy taxing your computer’s resources to make money—and no, you’re not getting a cut.

Hackers allegedly compromised the webstek and inflicted it with a cryptocurrency-mining script, a program that uses visitors’ CPU power to generate Monero, a digital currency like Bitcoin that professes anonymity.

The same script appeared on Showtime’s webstek late last month, however it wasgoed quickly liquidated after news broke on Twitter and several tech publications. Showtime never made it clear whether the script wasgoed added intentionally or wasgoed the result of their webstek being compromised. Pirate Bay intentionally experimented with the script but straks eliminated it due to negative visitor terugkoppeling.

Thesis are just a few of the enhancing number of cases where the resources of computers like yours or mine have bot hijacked to generate digital money without their owners’ consent. With the prices of cryptocurrencies steadily rising, slew of people—including malicious hackers—are on the lookout to padachtige their wallets.

What is cryptocurrency mining?

While you can always buy cryptocurrencies on online exchanges, an alternative way to obtain them is to “mine” them, which will cost nothing if others are doing it for you.

Cryptocurrencies run on blockchain technology, a distributed ledger that exists on thousands of computers at the same time and obviates the need for middlemen and brokers such spil banks and financial institutions. Records are stored on the ledger te blocks and are linked together through cryptographic equations, hence the name.

Before a fresh block is added to the blockchain, it has to be validated and verified through solving complicated mathematical problems. The process, called mining, requires a loterijlot of computing power and ensures that no one can compromise the integrity of the system.

Anyone can become a miner by installing mining software and joining the network. The very first miner to solve the equation gets to append the fresh block to the blockchain and be rewarded ter cryptocurrencies and transaction fees.

Mining bitcoins requires meaty amounts of computing power and requires specialized hardware available ter large gegevens centers. On the other arm, Monero, which wasgoed launched ter 2014, can be mined with ordinary CPUs. Hackers can lightly get involved by assembling a mining botnet, a network of computers infected with malware that enables cybercriminals to control them from afar.

How hackers are mining cryptocurrencies

Coinhive, the script used on the Showtime and Pirate Bay sites, wasgoed developed by a namesake company earlier this year and wasgoed introduced spil “a viable alternative to intrusive and annoying ads that litter so many websites today.” It wasgoed also meant to address the rise of ad-blockers, which are hurting the bottom line of websites that rely on ads. The hosting webstek takes 70 procent of the proceeds and the surplus goes to Coinhive. (The user naturally gets nothing.)

Given the inconspicuous way the script works, it has become a dearest money-making device for hackers. Ter the past weeks, the script has popped up te numerous Google Chrome extensions and hacked WordPress and Magento websites.

Coinhive has voiced frustration ter the shady use of its implements and has promised to alter the script to obtain visitors’ consent before using their CPU for mining ter the future. Meantime, several ad-blockers have added support to block Coinhive’s script.

However, Coinhive is not the only implement hackers are using to mine cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency mining malware and schemes have bot around for several years. But the past months have seen a spike te mining activity, largely due to the rising price of cryptocurrencies.

Slovakian cybersecurity vendor ESET recently discovered a malware that exploits unpatched vulnerabilities te Windows Server 2003 machines to mine ems of thousands of dollars’ worth of Monero every month.

Kaspersky Labs reported that cryptocurrency-mining malware has targeted more than 1.65 million computers te the very first eight months of 2018, an uptick compared to previous years. IBM’s X-Force security team has found a sixfold increase ter cryptocurrency-mining attacks aimed at enterprise networks.

How to protect yourself against cryptocurrency miners

While cryptocurrency miners won’t steal your gegevens or encrypt your files like other malware, they are annoying nonetheless and can negatively influence the spectacle of your pc. Here are several ways you can prevent hackers from lining their pockets with your CPU:

  • Install an antivirus and keep it up to date: Most antivirus solutions detect and removing cryptocurrency mining contraptions spil harmful software.
  • Install an ad-blocker: If you’re using AdBlock Plus or AdGuard, both block Coinhive’s JS library.
  • Install a cryptomining blocker extension on your browser: Developers have created Chrome extensions that scan your browser and terminate scripts that “look” like Coinhive. AntiMiner, No Coin, and minerBlock are three plugins that will help protect you against cryptocurrency miner scripts.

Ben Dickson is a software engineer and the founder of TechTalks. Go after his tweets at @bendee983 and his updates on Facebook.

Ben Dickson

Ben Dickson is a software engineer and freelance tech blogger. He writes for TechCrunch, VentureBeat, the Next Web, PC Tijdschrift, Huffington Postbode, and Motherboard, among others. He also runs his own blog, TechTalks.

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