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    Cryptojacking

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    Cryptojacking: The unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency.

    Overview

    Cryptojacking is an illicit activity that involves unauthorized use of another individual’s computer, server, or even an entire network to mine cryptocurrencies. While traditional cryptocurrency mining is legal and involves using dedicated hardware to solve complex mathematical problems (a process that’s rewarded with cryptocurrencies), cryptojacking is an illegal shortcut. It circumvents the expense of hardware and electricity by exploiting the resources of unaware victims.

    How It Works

    Cryptojackers employ various tactics to infect target systems. They may use phishing emails that trick the user into downloading malware, or they might inject malicious code into a website or an online ad. Once the malware is on the victim’s system, it runs complex mathematical calculations to mine cryptocurrency, sending any mined coins to a wallet belonging to the attacker. The process is often entirely hidden from the victim.

    Impact

    1. Resource Drain: The most immediate effect is a slowdown in computer performance.
    2. Increased Costs: Organizations may experience higher electricity bills and decreased productivity.
    3. Security Risks: The presence of cryptojacking malware may indicate other security vulnerabilities.

    Mitigation and Prevention

    1. Endpoint Security: Employ endpoint security solutions that can detect and prevent cryptojacking attempts.
    2. Regular Updates: Keeping all software up-to-date can help in preventing known vulnerabilities.
    3. Employee Training: Educating staff about the dangers of phishing emails and malicious websites.
    4. Monitoring: Use system monitoring tools to identify any unusual spikes in CPU or GPU usage.

    Commonly Targeted Cryptocurrencies

    Monero and Bitcoin are commonly mined cryptocurrencies in cryptojacking, with Monero being particularly popular due to its anonymous nature.

    Associated Technologies and Tools

    1. JavaScript Miners: Coinhive was a popular service that provided a JavaScript miner that could be embedded in websites, although it shut down in 2019.
    2. Botnets: Networks of compromised computers can be used for large-scale cryptojacking operations.
    3. Antivirus Software: Many antivirus programs now offer cryptojacking detection.

    Legal Implications

    Cryptojacking is illegal and is considered a form of unauthorized access to computer systems under cybercrime laws in many jurisdictions. Perpetrators can face serious penalties if caught and convicted.

    By understanding the mechanics, impact, and prevention measures associated with cryptojacking, individuals and organizations can better prepare themselves against this surreptitious form of cyber-attack.