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Crypto-Jacking Is A Growing Threat For Businesses

Posted by Jeffrey Forbes on Jul 19, 2018 9:00:00 AM

crypto-jacking is a growing threat for businesses 

Managing cyber risk in the current atmosphere requires constantly staying abreast of new threats.  Every new technological advancement creates new opportunities for criminals to turn your systems against you.  Companies rightly concern themselves most with cyber crimes like data theft or extortion.  Yet even seemingly minor crimes can cause lost revenue for companies not paying attention.

What Is Crypto-Jacking?

One of the “new” cyber crimes gaining significant traction right now is “crypto-jacking.”  Crypto-jacking involves installing a program on a victim’s computer system so that the system will mine for cryptocurrency unbeknownst to the victim.  This technique is based off the way cryptocurrencies generally operate.  Computers must mine new units of a cryptocurrency by solving exceedingly complex mathematical problems.  The processing power involved in solving the problem and gaining the new unit of cryptocurrency often involves incurring costs greater that the crypto-coin is worth. 

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Personal Computers And Business Networks At Risk

As a result, aspiring hackers will sneak a script into a victim’s computer.  The computer will process the script and begin solving problems to earn cryptocurrency in the background.   At an individual level, this may seem almost like a victimless crime.  The individual might have a slightly higher energy bill or a slightly slower computer.  At an industrial level though, a large number of infected machines can negatively impact a business’s bottom line through lost productivity and increased expenses.

The Code Of The Internet

This category of the use of a user's computing power is cloudy because a number of sites try to use mining scripts legitimately as a way of generating income, allowing them to avoid annoying web ads.  As long as a user knowingly consents to the transaction and the running of the script, no real issue exists.  These sites normally use scripts that only operate while the user accesses the website.  Hackers, however, use modified scripts that continue running well after a user has visited an infected site and obviously avoids notifying users. 

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Minimum and Maximum Limits Of Computer Resources

Another issue involves the amount of processing power a mining script consumes.  Legitimate sites try to cap the mining script to a minor percentage of the machine the script is running on.  Hackers however, tend to try and max out the processing power of the machine for as long as they can.  This type of usage can physically damage the machines on which they run. 

Software Can Offer Peace Of Mind

While the number of crypto-jacking incidents have increased dramatically, security software is catching up.  Many security programs now scan for and block crypto-jacking scripts.  This type of protection requires up-to-date security systems.  Adblockers will also stop many attempts at crypto-jacking currently.  Companies also need to ensure their employees are trained to spot and avoid suspicious websites.  These types of threats will only increase over the next few years as they provide an easy and hard to detect way for criminals to make money off your computer system.  Start preparing your defense now.

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Topics: IT, For Your Business, hacker, cyber security, Small Business