What Is Cryptojacking? How to Prevent, Detect, and Recover From It With a Reliable Antivirus
Cybersecurity attacks are increasing in both strength and frequency.
Naturally, that means more cryptojacking attacks — and this covert, shady cryptocurrency mining operation comes at your personal expense.
But what is cryptocurrency mining? What is cryptojacking? What is a cryptominer and why does this malware exist?
Well, cryptojackers infect computers with malware. This malware mines cryptocurrencies on victims' devices. This can lead to a major decline in system, security, and battery performance.
This cryptojacking definition may underwhelm you. But while slow device performance may seem like a minor issue, it can disrupt livelihoods and stunt business operations.
So keep reading for a basic overview of cryptojacking. We'll also tell you how to prevent, detect, and recover from it so no rogue cryptominer stands a chance.
- How Does Cryptojacking Happen?
- What Are the Consequences?
- How to Detect Cryptojacking ?
- How to Protect Yourself from Cryptojacking ?
- How to Recover From Cryptojacking ?
- Don't Let Cryptojacking Compromise Your Devices
How Does Cryptojacking Happen?
One popular cryptojacking method sending phishing emails with malware links. This link then infects the user's computer with malware.
Another popular method is to set up a site. Cryptojackers will run a bad script through this site with malicious, clickable ads.
Clicking these ads will then open up a link that infects the user's computer with malware. For cryptojackers, this is far more ideal than compromising their own devices by mining for crypto on them.
The site can also make a "drive-by" attack. A "drive-by" attack is when the malware automatically mines for crypto when one of the website's webpages is open on the victim's web browser. When opened, the site starts cryptomining.
What Are the Consequences?
If you're not familiar with cybersecurity attacks and/or cryptomining, it's easy to dismiss their initial attacks. That's because cryptomining malware is a lot quieter than other malware programs.
Victims may not even know that their devices have this malware until their computer's performance starts dropping drastically. But when the device's performance really suffers, it'll be much harder to fix.
Slow computer performance sounds minor until you experience it. Then you realize that it affects your ability to bank online and access important online portals.
Cryptojacking won't directly drain your finances, but for tech-dependent businesses, its effects have more than enough financial consequences. If you're a freelancer and you rely on your laptop for income, missing a week of work can mean missing a whole paycheck.
How to Detect Cryptojacking ?
Instead of immediate and blatant aggression, cryptojackers can gradually wear down your performance. Either way, you need to know a problem exists to solve it. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Download a Good Antivirus Program
You should already have good antivirus software on your devices. But if you don't, do so as soon as possible. Since cryptojacking is becoming increasingly popular, there's no telling who will become a victim or when.
A good antivirus program will warn you if it suspects the presence of malware. It will then give you the option of a cybersecurity cryptojacking test for threats.
After the scan, your program will let you know if it's found malware. If it has, it will do its best to protect and defend your computer against the malware program.
- Monitor System Performance
A good sign of cryptomining is declining system performance. You might only experience some lagging at first.
But the longer the script eats away at your system, the faster the degradation becomes. First, your computer lags only slightly for a few days. Now, you can't open most of your programs without them crashing.
Check your CPU usage once in a while to see if it increases. If you notice a spike that doesn't make sense, keep looking back. Keep checking your CPU numbers to see if it's a chronic problem.
If so, then you probably have malware on your computer. Playing games, opening too many programs, or using complicated programs can all raise your CPU usage. But a virus can exceed CPU usage beyond 100%, which contributes to your declining system performance.
- Check for Overheating
High CPU usage can cause devices to overheat. If your device suddenly starts getting hot, there's a great chance that it's infected. When your computer only overheats on certain websites, that implies that those websites are coded with malware scripts.
Overheating damages technological appliances. In particular, your batteries are necessary for your device to run at all. Even if not completely damaged, compromised batteries can charge very slowly and/or have shorter battery life.
- Perform Regular Antivirus Scans
Cryptojacking malware doesn't like to make an entrance and can go undetected for a long time. But don't give it any chance to make your tech start lagging. Even if the issue's easily fixed, you still waste time getting through a tough lag.
Instead, perform regular antivirus scans. During a scan, your program will carefully compare its database's scripts on cryptomining with all scripts on your device. If it detects the crypto mining malware, again — it will let you know.
How to Protect Yourself from Cryptojacking ?
It's good to understand cryptojacking so you can prepare yourself against it. These are the steps to ensure that you don't have to recover from crypto-mining malware.
- Download a Good Antivirus
Antivirus programs don't only detect malware. They can also protect you from malicious programs. In fact, they may not even allow you to open that infected webpage or some fake-free game program.
Preventing issues is far easier than solving them. That's why great antivirus programs do just that.
Make sure you understand what makes a good antivirus program. Not all antivirus programs are the same, and some will offer superior protection and features.
Already have a good antivirus program? Then make sure it's updated to the latest version. If you don't already have an automatic updates feature toggled on, toggle it on and keep it that way.
- Keep All Software and Devices Up-to-Date
System performance involves security performance. So don't ignore those system notifications telling you to update your software and devices. They're not telling you to update to stop apps from crashing, they're urging you to update because it affects cybersecurity.
Updates can also be specifically designated for security, especially if there was an error with the last one. Passively ignoring your update notifications could make you very vulnerable to all sorts of malicious attacks, not just cryptojacking ones.
- Check Emails Carefully
Every email service has a spam folder feature, but malicious emails can slip through the cracks. That's why it's important for users to be vigilant when browsing their inboxes.
Some phishing emails are more obviously dubious than others. Misspelled and grammatically incorrect messages sent from "Google HQ" will immediately provoke most users' suspicions.
But some emails are more subtle and clever. They might be able to make a passable fake advertisement to lure readers to click on the email's links.
In fact, be generally careful when browsing any email from an unfamiliar recipient. Some cryptojackers will include text into a large image to look like a regular text body of an email. If victims click anywhere on the email, even by accident, they can open their device up to cryptojacking.
- Avoid Abnormal Links
As mentioned before, emails aren't the only vessels for malicious links. Malicious links can exist anywhere on the web and can hide in plain sight. Such places include:
Shortened links are easy tools that cryptojackers use to trick their victims. Unless you trust the entity or person that gave you a shortened link, it's best not to click it. Look out for shortened links especially in places where they're really not necessary.
Malicious links can also hide in anchor text. You can see this in the emails they send to unsuspecting victims. But they can be used almost everywhere on the web.
Don't be paranoid about every piece of anchor text, but be aware of this phenomenon. Know that cryptojackers might use the vagueness of a shortened URL to their advantage.
- Adblock Programs
To avoid malicious clickable ads, download a good ad-blocking program. Not only does it avoid annoying pop-up ads, but they're also great for security.
There can be hundreds of ads on a webpage, which can be annoying to parse through. But with Adblock programs, you can decongest a webpage to avoid cryptojacking attacks.
Most Adblock programs, like Adaware's own Adaware Ad Blocker, also allow users to toggle off adblocking for specific websites. So if you're worried about depriving content creators of ad revenue, you can turn it back on for the site domain to continue supporting them. Our program can also detect cryptomining scripts, which isn't the case for every antivirus program.
Cryptojackers can introduce their script anywhere, including through a webpage. They don't need to sneak an actual program onto your computer for their script to work.
- For Businesses — Train Employees to Detect and Prevent Cryptojacking
Food establishments may need working tablets for orders, and eCommerce sellers depend on their devices for all of their work. Even if your workers are remote, train them. Their ability to work impacts business, so they'll need their laptops to be in working order.
Include cybersecurity training for new hires. Every once in a while, do a refresher workshop, especially if you applied major updates to all your business's web-connected tech.
How to Recover From Cryptojacking ?
If you detect any cryptojacking, act quickly. The longer your computer is vulnerable, the worse its system and battery performance become.
All this can weaken your device even further, which can lead to a host of other, pricier problems. Here are the steps to take to bounce back successfully:
- Disableall Website-Delivered Scripts
By disabling all website-delivered scripts, you're bound to kill the cryptomining script. So even if you don't understand which script it is, you'll know that no cryptojacking script can't affect your system again.
- Delete and Remove All Extensions
You probably won't know exactly where the malware came from. Even if you have your suspicions, it's hard to confirm them without the right training and expertise.
Not only is it difficult to know where the attacks originated from. It's also difficult to know when they started. Again, cryptomining scripts are not immediately blatant and aggressive.
Unless you downloaded a ton of software around the time the attacks started, you won't need to go through the hassle of deleting and then reinstalling those apps. But browser extensions are easy to both install and delete.
Since you don't know the origins of the cryptomining script, delete every extension on your browser. Afterward, double-check every extension and its safety before redownloading it.
- Close Your Browser
After deleting all extensions, close your browser completely. Don't give the script any help while you recover from its effects.
- Run Antivirus Scan
Run an antivirus scan after closing your browser. What your software will do after scanning your device is take action against any existing malware. During this process, your program will alert you of the malware's existence and start thwarting it.
- Tighten Up Preventative Measures
Accidents happen, even to careful people. But diligent implementation of preventative measures will ruin any chance of your computer getting cryptojacked.
So if you experienced a cryptojacking attack, consider it a wake-up call. Technology is a useful tool. But that applies to both us and the people that want to exploit others for money.
Don't Let Cryptojacking Compromise Your Devices
Cryptojacking is more than a nuisance. At the very least, it could prevent a college student from completing an important essay in optimal conditions. For businesses, this inconvenience comes laden with financial consequences. Neither of these issues is trivial, and in fact demonstrates how wide-reaching this cybersecurity threat is.
If you would like a headstart on protection against cryptojacking, download Adaware's free antivirus program! We'll show you what we're capable of, and that we're more than capable of handling any cryptojacking attempts.