March 6, 2021

Cybersecurity: What is cryptojacking and why has it become one of the most common cyber attacks? | Trends


First, let's put ourselves in context. At the beginning of March 2019, the bitcoin value exceeded 3,900 euros. The revaluation of this financial asset, the highest view so far, has made cryptocurrencies considered as one more currency.

Given the success of Bitcoin in recent years, there have been many who have wanted to take advantage of the block chain to create new cryptocurrencies. For this, they have only had to apply slight modifications to the cryptographic algorithm -the basis of its operation- and monetary policy. Currently it is estimated that there are around 700 different, such as ethereum, litecoin or ripple, the three that have more value today after bitcoin. The last and most famous company to join this trend has been Facebook, with the recent pound announcement.

The anonymity that characterizes the transactions of these cryptocurrencies, added to a better defense by organisms and companies against attacks by ransomware, has led to the emergence of a new form of virtual theft: the cryptojacking.

This practice consists of the illegitimate use of an electronic device, without the consent or knowledge of the user, by cybercriminals who take advantage of the processing and calculation capacity of the graphics card, memory and processor to perform the process of obtaining of cryptocurrencies and get the total profits.

Cybercriminals resort to the use of a malware special, known as cryptominer, to enter other computer equipment and steal power. In this way, they can be closing blocks much more quickly and, therefore, receive more cryptocurrencies as a reward.

The tendency is that cryptominers become increasingly sophisticated and affect more platforms.

The fraudulent practice of cryptojacking It has been increasing in recent months, leading to significant robberies of cryptocurrencies around the world. One of these attacks took place in January 2018. Coincheck, the largest cryptocurrency market in Japan, suffered the theft of 535 million dollars in NEM, a cryptocurrency whose value is currently in the twentieth position. Today, although this type of theft has been increasing, there has not yet been one that has managed to overcome it.

Given the current growth of cryptominers, the ransomware, the biggest cyberthreat of recent years, could stop being the main malware. The cybercriminals have seen in this new modality a way to make money in a more silent way, which allows them to go unnoticed and that their campaigns may last longer. The trend is, undoubtedly, that the cryptominers become increasingly sophisticated and affect more platforms.

However, this malware It is not especially harmful to the computer system alone. The real problem is that they are usually accompanied by another malware as trojans, spyware or worms, which can seriously affect the equipment.

There are different ways of knowing if a computer is being attacked by a cryptominer. The National Computer Emergency Response Team Cryptologic Center (CCN-CERT) It is recommended to carry out a monitoring of CPU usage and system memory, since the high use of resources of a computer is the most notable characteristic that a computer is running. cryptominer. Specifically, systems often show signs of some of the following symptoms: slowness, loaded processor, overheating, high power consumption and unfamiliar processes running.

In this way, by monitoring and monitoring the use of our team's resources, we can know in advance if it is being used to mine cryptocurrencies. If this is the case, there are a number of solutions to disinfect the system, such as disconnecting the computer from the network, analyzing it with an updated antivirus and other technologies. antimalware, as Malwarebytes, or, ultimately, format the operating system and proceed to its complete reinstallation, for which the CCN-STIC guides developed by the CCN-CERT are very useful.

Felix Muñoz is director of Entelgy Innotec Security

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