Cryptojacking refers to the unauthorized use of a mobile phone, tablet, computer, or other connected home devices by cybercriminals to mine digital currencies. It’s the means by which groups or individuals try to make money out of your computing power. Cryptojacking is on the rise, and any business or institution with significant computer processing power is a target.

Just recently, security researchers uncovered a number of high profile cases of cryptojacking involving companies such as Amazon, Tesla, and LA Times. Even the United States federal courts system has been compromised by cryptojackers at some point. There are ways to protect your organization from such cryptojacking. All it takes is some effort, ingenuity, and, of course, some expense.

Protecting Your Organization against Cryptojacking

This primer will shed light on what cryptojacking is, how cryptojackers gain access to organizations’ public cloud services and exploit your computing power to mine cryptocurrency, and how to avoid exposing your business to cryptojackers. Here are ways organizations can prevent cryptojacking:

  • Install the Latest Software Patches and Updates. Ignoring critical software updates and patches exposes your system/website to cryptojacking.
  • Monitor Your Cloud Environments Continuously. Always be on the lookout for unauthorized users accessing S3 buckets or significant changes in load. These are common indications of cryptojacking attacks.
  • Assign All Administrative Consoles Difficult-to-Crack Passwords. This ensures that all the entry points to your cloud infrastructure are correctly configured by the people using the system the most, at all times.
  • Adopt a SecOps Practice. Adopting a SecOps practice ensures that security is tightly integrated into every stage of your development cycle. This will help you keep your code secure and up-to-date at all times.
  • Leverage the Community. Leveraging the security community can be an effective way to discover vulnerable areas in the system and avert hijacks. For instance, Tesla uses bug bounties or vulnerability reward programs to prevent cryptojacking.

As a user, you may be able to recognize cryptojacking on your own. Since it involves increased processor activity, the computer’s temperature will probably rise. If you notice that your computer’s fans are running more quickly when you aren’t performing any CPU-intensive activity, run an up-to-date antivirus program to remove any cryptojacking software that may be running on your computer.

Types of Cryptojacking

Since the advent of the internet and the computer era, it seemed that all that the hackers wanted was to steal information from computers. Targeted information has mainly been financial account information, personal contact data, passwords, user IDs, etc. But there’s a new breed of cybercriminals that’s not interested in all that. All they want is to make something from your computing power: cryptocurrency.

There are two primary methods of cryptojacking that cybercriminals use to hijack your computing power. One involves tricking the user into downloading mining applications into their computers. The other form of cryptojacking is executed in the form of a typical malware attack. The former is far easier than the latter hence more common. All the cryptojackers have to do is embed a mining script to a website and lure visitors to the platform.