Much like mainstream science, PC technology can be used both for constructive and destructive purposes. This is evident in software sector where the MNCS spend a huge amount of money and resources to keep malware and viruses at bay. Instances of social media profiles and official ids getting hacked and data breaches are not unheard of either. Malware can be of varying types and with time these too continue to evolve. Even a decade back, you did not hear the term crypto malware but nowadays- it is no longer an alien word!
Basics of crypto-malware and their activities
In simple terms, crypto malware is a specific type of malware that involves the crypto currency users and mining agencies. It is often called a silent threat as it can go undetected for a long time. The cyber criminals are targeting crypto currency sector primarily because some of these digital currencies remain unregulated and it is hard to trace them. This is applicable to bitcoin but somehow the crypto malware makers prefer Monero even more. They also target some crypto exchanges by exploiting security loopholes.
Crypto malware is a program developed for criminal crypto mining activities. The hackers gain control of other’s computers to mine any crypto currency in illegitimate manner. These malware divert such CPU processing time and resources for mining crypto currency. It may not harm that PC but can affect its performance adversely. Its aim is not stealing data or corrupting the OS, unlike regular PC malware types. It aims to remain in the background undetected and mine coins without getting caught.
Crypto-malware becoming more prevalent than ransomware
Even a few years back, instances of PCs or network of computers getting infected by ransomware were quite common. Ransomware takes hold of your PC and its OS and you won’t get control back until you pay a specific amount to the creator of the app. These payments are typically required to be made in crypto currencies.
However, crypto-malware tends to be more effective for the criminals than Ransomware. The former can actually go undetected for months while fetching mining benefits to the creator- in a silent manner. While ransomware is not going to vanish anytime soon, the usage of crypto-malware is on the rise- say security sector veterans.
The Impact of Cryptojacking and crypto mining
Initially, you may dismiss activities like criminal cryptomining or cryptojacking as potent threats since they do not exactly harm your software or make PCs crash. However, the reality is mining cryptocurrency strains a system and the hardware gets subjected to it. It can be harmful in setups where productivity loss is detrimental. When left overlooked, continued and undetected cryptomining may lead to shorter lifespan of CPUS and GPUs.
Sometimes, Crypto-malware can be hidden within other legitimate programs-making it even harder to trace! In such cases, when the affected app runs, it is actually mining coins in a stealthy way.
Evolution of Crypto-mining malware
Much like blockchain tech and the crypto currencies, Crypto-mining malware has evolved. Initially, these apps hogged hardware resources in computers and hence were viewed as minor annoyances. However, arrival of malware like Adylkuzz and the infamous WannaCry made security experts take notice. Soon after, Crypto-malware targeting first generation IoT devices were discovered.
The security vendors agree that Crypto-mining malware has become quite sophisticated and their makers are trying to exploit enterprise processing power. They devise newer ways to bypass the security of firewalls and antivirus applications running in the computers. They are increasingly targeting specific types of devices and computers. For example, a variant named WannaMine targets only windows PCs and not smartphones. It has been found to cause hardware and apps to crash-leading to severe operational disruptions.
How to defend your PC or network against Crypto-mining malware
It is difficult to find any single security app that offers your device/PC immunity from Crypto-mining malware! However, you can bring down the infection risk significantly by adopting some safety measures. These are:
- However basics it sounds, ensure your PC or network computers are always kept up to date. Install the latest OS security patches and kept the antivirus software updated at all times.
- It would be great if you can use hardware firewall and dedicated network security software.
- Make it a habit to use tough to guess passwords for all systems.
- If you find any PC or web access device showing signs of ageing even though it is not very old or used for multitasking, put it under scrutiny.
- Resort to using a web browser that comes with settings specially to safeguard from attacks of Crypto malware.