Cybercriminals are now choosing crypto jacking over ransomware for bigger earnings.
Cryptojacking is now the most popular attack vector; ransomware is still present and dangerous, but definitely not the leader anymore.
Do not confuse crypto mining with crypto jacking, it is not the same thing.
• Cryptomining is the act of mining cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero, and many more (over 1,600 other cryptocurrencies)
• Cryptojacking is the act of illegally mining cryptocurrencies by stealing computer and graphics processing power from users’ without their permission or knowledge; It also means stealing already mined cryptocurrency from another’s crypto wallet.
Why is crypto jacking winning over ransomware? Simple:
Ransomware has been the undisputed leader for some time, but it is complicated, crypto jacking is simple. In order to make a profit from ransomware, hackers need to do a lot of research, reconnaissance, and social engineering. The ransomware profit was once lucrative, but now it has become smaller and smaller, because many companies, educational institutions, and municipalities are refusing to pay the ransom.
Companies and individual people must take certain precautions against this growing phenomenon of cyber attacks; for that they should implement at least a cybersecurity solution, like an antivirus, to protect their systems. Necessary things like regularly updating operating systems, using antivirus for Windows or antivirus for Mac depending on which OS your device is using. Companies must also hire professional cybersecurity firms to do regular checkups to their internal network a couple of times per year. These checkups must always include a penetration test and various ethical hacking test.
In this case, a user might be happy with it because after all, its device hasn’t been infected with malware, and their private data is intact, which is not the case of ransomware. But what the user doesn’t know is that his or her system will slow to a crawl, and access anything will become exponentially more difficult. In worst case scenarios the user’s system could max out the performance which would put the computer at risk, possibly destroying it in the process.
The same situation can affect various corporate environments like data centers. If all of the company digital assets are infected with crypto mining software, corporate services would slow down, causing lost productivity, at best. In a worst-case scenario, the act of crypto jacking could cause a brownout of the data center or a blackout. Imagine if a healthcare provider’s data center would be infected with a crypto miner; the access to electronic health records (EHR) would be very slow and in some cases, this could simply mean the difference between life and death.
More and more hackers are moving to crypto jacking because it’s far easier to mine either, bitcoin, or any of the other cryptocurrencies available. Plus, the payout is much higher and has a better guarantee of a payoff than ransomware.
This is how individual users and companies can protect their devices from crypto jacking:
1. Determine if any of the background running processes are consuming a mass quantity of resources; check CPU and GPU usage and if something is looking suspicious close the process immediately.
3. Keep everything updated, from app updates to OS updates.
4. Use a strong cybersecurity solution like an antivirus or a service that blocks crypto miners; depending on which OS your device is running install at least an antivirus for Windows or an antivirus for mac.
5. Employ web browser isolation and good cyber security habits.
6. For companies that exist 100% online, we recommend the using of cyber-secured web hosting services.