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Cryptojacking Meaning

Mar 8, 2024 | Updated Mar 8, 2024
Cryptojacking is a cybercrime that involves stealing and exploiting the victim’s computing resources to generate digital assets, such as mining Bitcoin.

What Is Cryptojacking?

One of the ways of acquiring digital assets is by purchasing them directly on the market. Alternatively, network participants can acquire them in the form of block rewards through a process called mining or minting. Cypto mining often demands expensive specialized hardware and excessive energy to solve a complex mathematical puzzle. Due to the competitive nature of the mining process, a miner only receives the block reward if they are the first to solve the equation. Some attackers evade spending a penny on computing resources and resort to a malicious crypto-mining version, known as cryptojacking.

Think of cryptojacking as the cryptocurrency-threat version of hijacking. Also known as malicious cryptomining, cryptojacking is the practice of exploiting unwitting users’ computing resources to illicitly mine cryptocurrency coins. The motive behind this act is to reap profit without spending one’s money on expensive mining equipment and substantial energy power.

Unlike other forms of attack, cryptojacking is designed to remain undetectable. Hence, the attacker targets several victims, using minimal computing resources from each for as long as possible.

How Does Cryptojacking Work?

Malicious crypto mining takes place through classic malware (host-based) or drive-by cryptomining (web browser-based) attacks.

In a host-based attack, the hacker typically infects an entity’s CPU and GPU with malicious code through phishing techniques. Once the user’s device is infected, the attacker stealthily redirects the victim’s computing and processing power towards their mining activities.

Alternatively, the hacker uses a drive-by crypto mining scheme to inject JavaScript code onto a web page. The script runs whenever users visit the targeted website. In sophisticated cryptojacking, the script can continue running even after leaving the site, where a window remains open as a hidden pop-up.

The attacker combines the computing resources of a large number of victims to offload the mining expenses on the victims. This allows them to expend minimal computing resources and remain hidden. Nonetheless, a cryptojacking victim can notice decreased computer processing speed, slow network, regular overheating, high CPU usage, and increased electricity bills.

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