Remaining vigilant and consistent in the constantly evolving cybersecurity threat landscape is a critical action to take. Amid these threats, crypto-malware stands out and is growing in popularity.
Interestingly, there were more than 300 million documented cases of crypto-virus attacks in the first half of 2023. Compared to the same period in 2022, this is about a 4-fold increase.
What Is Crypto Malware?
Crypto malware is an innovative software that steals the processing power of your device or computer and uses it to mine cryptocurrency. This sneaky method, also known as cryptojacking, stealthily drains your processing power.
Due to their privacy-focused technology, which thwarts authorities’ attempts to trace them, cryptocurrency wallets like Monero (XMR) are a common target of these malware schemes. Recall that Coinhive released the first public cryptojacking script six years ago. With this malicious code, website owners might secretly mine cryptocurrency using their visitors’ devices.
Rise Of Crypto Malware Attacks
Data shows that passive crypto viruses are the new hallmark of hackers instead of disruptive cybersecurity attacks like ransomware. According to cybersecurity experts, a key rationale for this is that law enforcement authorities pay more attention to high-profile tactics, such as ransomware, than to less dangerous cryptojacking operations.
Furthermore, there needs to be more clarity about the legality of cryptocurrency mining, which gives malicious actors a cover for their heinous operations. One more motivating reason is the ease of implementing crypto virus attacks.
Processing power can be stolen for next to nothing, and the cryptocurrency gained is easily convertible to cash. Accordingly, cryptojacking has become an attractive alternative for criminal organizations.
Difference Between Crypto Malware And Ransomware
Regarding cyber threats, crypto-malware, and ransomware are distinct in how they work and what they aim to accomplish. Without the user’s awareness or permission, a cryptovirus secretly uses a device’s processing power to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Monero.
It runs invisibly in the background, utilizing system resources to execute mining operations. Ransomware, in contrast, is a more overtly malicious program. It sneaks into a system and encrypts files, making them unusable. Financial gain through extorting money from impacted users or businesses is the main objective of ransomware.
How Crypto Malware Attacks Occur
Fraudsters have perfected several techniques for hijacking computers. The most common ones are discussed below.
Installation of Crypto-Mining Code
Cybercriminals frequently plant crypto-mining malware on computers to take advantage of their resources. They entice users to visit fake websites that distribute malware by downloading files containing it or clicking links to such websites.
Injecting Crypto Mining Scripts
Hackers use malicious scripts included in advertising and websites to deploy crypto-mining software. When users visit infected websites, these scripts exploit browser vulnerabilities to start mining cryptocurrency. The mining process can begin automatically without the victim having to do anything malicious, like clicking on an advert on the site.
Exploiting System Weaknesses
Installing crypto-mining programs on devices is a common tactic for hackers who exploit software and operating system vulnerabilities. For instance, crypto-malware can be installed into devices through side loading, which injects unapproved code.
Signs of Crypto Malware Attacks
Crypto malware infections can appear in various ways, some very evident and others very subtle. Symptoms of crypto-malware include:
The central processing unit (CPU) coordinates the system’s hardware, OS, and applications; when infected, it undergoes an unnatural spike in activity. Use Windows Task Manager or macOS Activity Monitor to monitor your computer’s processing power.
Crypto malware often causes a decrease in system performance since it uses a lot of CPU resources for mining operations. Overheating issues might arise due to this CPU strain, making the computer’s cooling system (fans) work harder to control the elevated temperature.
Unexpected Network Activities
Malicious software could be to blame if the network suddenly starts acting strange. Malware like this can cause odd network behavior, such as a high volume of outgoing connections.
Preventing Crypto Malware Attacks
Updating Software and Operating Systems
Updating your operating system is essential to protect your computer from crypto virus attacks. This will install the newest updates. Updating the system reduces the danger of assaults by fixing vulnerabilities that hackers could use in older systems.
Installing and Using Authentic Antivirus and Anti-malware Software
Implementing solid anti-malware software to protect against cyber dangers such as crypto-malware is essential. The best anti-malware software routinely scans your device with state-of-the-art detection algorithms to identify crypto miners and other risks.
Disregard Suspicious Email Attachment and Links
Avoid falling victim to email scams by not doing what the sender asks of you in emails, such as opening attachments or clicking links. Avoid committing crypto virus assaults by exercising caution and disregarding questionable emails.
Use A Firewall
A firewall filters incoming and outgoing connections to prevent unwanted access to a device from the internet. This additional layer of defense increases the difficulty for crypto viruses to penetrate PCs.
Given the present trend, crypto-malware attacks will keep rising in the future. One reason for this increase is that cybercriminals feel more empowered to launch more cryptojacking operations because law enforcement primarily focuses on high-profile cybercrimes such as ransomware and data breaches.
Also, Cybercriminals will likely develop novel approaches to take advantage of security loopholes in new technologies.
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