Cryptojacking can eat up the computing power of your mobile device and computer without you ever knowing it. Follow our guide on what cryptojacking is and how you can ensure no one is controlling your devices.
Maybe you are trying to ride the rocket “to the moon” with the meme-friendly DogeCoin. Or, maybe you heard about the neverending rollercoaster that is Bitcoin. Regardless if you are an investor in cryptocurrencies, you might be unknowingly helping hackers mine their own fortunes via cryptojacking. So what is cryptojacking and how can you stop it?
Let’s start with a quick explanation of how cryptocurrencies work. This is important to understand how exactly these digital pirates are stealing your computers to mine for digital gold.
We realize this sounds like a sentence from a sci-fi novel, but it’s the digital reality we are living in 2021.
Cryptocurrencies, also known as crypto, are digital assets or digital money. There is no physical currency, coin or bill involved. Rather, each digital “coin” is a strong numerical code that is stored in a database.
Because there are only a limited number of coins available, not unlike the concept of real money, those digital coins have value in transactions.
Mining for cryptocurrency is done via computer processing power.
Since cryptocurrencies are maintained via blockchain data, computers (miners) continuously validate and record new transactions on a blockchain. The system rewards “miners” who maintain the blockchain via the processing power of their computers with newly-minted Bitcoin.
In order to unlock a coin, one must successfully mine with a high powered computer or a group of computers. Those with the most processing power make the most money.
Annually, Bitcoin miners account for 48.79 megatons of carbon dioxide due to power consumption, the equivalent to the carbon footprint of Bulgaria. Miners use 102.72 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, the equivalent of the energy consumption of Kazakhstan. They generate 10.87 kilotons of electronic waste per year, according to Digiconomist.com.
Environmentalists are furious with the concept as crypto miners are using a significant amount of power to “dig” for coins.
So what is cryptojacking?
The danger to non-crypto miners in this scenario is that hackers and miners need as much computer power as they can find. More power equals more coins and more money.
Hackers have begun to take advantage of this by hacking into unsuspecting computers and smartphones to install software in the background. By doing so they are able to use your device’s computer processing power to remotely mine for cryptocurrencies.
This can cause a number of issues for victims of cryptojacking. The first is that the hackers max out devices’ processing power and will slow them down. The second is that this use of power will drain the battery of the mobile devices or computers rapidly. It can even cause the devices to overheat.
How can I avoid cryptojacking?
The best way to prevent falling victim to cryptojacking is to be smart about phishing attempts and ensure that any applications you download are clean.
Phishing is typically used to try to trick users into sharing their login information for secure accounts. Cryptojackers are using similar techniques to trick people into downloading their software.
You can also install ad-blocking and anti-cryptomining extensions for your web browser. Ad-blockers such as Ad Blocker Plus can detect cryptomining activities.
Two of the best extensions to block cryptomining are No Coin and MinerBlock.
Cryptojacking is one of the biggest mobile security threats that you should take seriously and something that can be easily combatted with a bit of caution and browser extensions.
Be safe out there!