Cryptocurrencies are real financial assets with a constant rise in their value. It is a reliable, safe, and tough nut to crack. However, the more valuable it is in the market, the bigger threat it is. In simple language, crypto-jacking is the unofficial use of your computer's resources to mine cryptocurrency. Hence, the question is- are there ways to keep safe from crypto-jacking in 2020?
You'll need much more than an optimization tool to keep "crypto thieves" at a distance. This issue is on the verge of explosion, and it is tougher to track & remove a crypto-jacker than ransomware or spyware.
Cryptojacking is also referred to as malicious crypto-mining. It is a PC, smart-device & server threat that sits in the system hidden & uses the machine's resources to mine cryptocurrencies. As per the Economic Times report, more than 3 million cryptojacking logs were recorded between Jan-May'18. Another report claims of more than 2000 computers being used by miners of Aditya Birla Group.
How Crypto-jackers work?
The effortless way for a hacker to access someone's computer is by deceiving them. They can get any user to open a harmful attachment or a link hidden in an email that automatically begins downloading the miner. Or else, they can infect a site or create a dangerous copy that, again, auto-launches that miner & infects the system.
Eventually, it's almost impossible to spot a crypto-mining code in plain sight. After it effectively plants itself into the OS, the script begins to work in the background, never disclosing itself to the user. The most evident sign is a slower performance, delays in multiple applications, & minor problems with stability.
How Can You Keep Safe Crypto-jacking?
What can you do to safeguard yourself from crypto-jackers contaminating your system with miners? After several months of detailed research & in-house tests, we chose some steps & tools that render the most effective security against crypto-jackers. Ensure you apply every single tool you can for complete efficiency.
Begin with Employee Training
It's not hidden that human error is the top vulnerability that hackers leverage. Such cases have been reported several times by different researchers over the past decade. And that's precisely the reason your staff members must be experienced and willing to do their best against miners.
Several businesses often have frequent security solutions awareness & training routines. Your staff must learn to identify these types of attacks.
Also, phishing is the most popular method of malware delivery, along with crypto-jackers. And you can't secure your network from the advanced auto-executing miners that hide in legit and non-legit sites. But, awareness training will drastically decrease the no. of successful email links or attachment phishing attacks.
Run Ad-blockers/browser extension
Crypto-jackers use web ads for entering into the system. That's why you should install an adblocker/browser extension against miners on each browser in the network.
The great news is that several 100% free ad-blockers can be somewhat effective in blocking crypto-jacking scripts. But if you are serious about it, you might want to spend on a commercial tool.
Implement endpoint security
Endpoint security protects the network from a broad range of threats, along with malware, spyware, and ransomware. It also includes modules that focus on blocking crypto miners. Endpoint protection verifies the database, and if a particular miner is included in the list, the antivirus eliminates it instantly.
Leverage mobile management
MDM solutions are prevalent for businesses today. They allow us to keep track of each device connected to the corporate network. And they make it very simple to access all these laptops, computers, or mobile devices & download all the essential updates.
Unfortunately, MDM solutions aren't affordable for small-scale enterprises. But, chances are you might not need one, as mobiles aren't a big target for crypto-miners since they're not as robust as computers and are somewhat safe.
Keep the system updated.
This is the oldest and yet most successful advice one can give: keep the system up-to-date. Hackers are always perfecting their tools, but OS developers are too. And while most updates aim to enhance stability, launch new business tools, and accelerate the performance, they increase the overall security level.
Use network monitoring tools.
As per experts with experience, network monitoring solutions successfully detect crypto-jackers. Consumer endpoint solutions normally don't include monitoring tools, while business-oriented tools do. The recent AI advancements have proven to be super effective at detecting & removing miners.
Network monitoring means keeping an eye on the traffic 24/7. After a possible threat is detected, it can be handled instantly. Crypto-jackers are known to hide on web servers. They stay there for a long time and wait for human error to enter the network. Hence, make a habit of checking your servers regularly.
The Most Hazardous Crypto-jackers
- PowerGhost: It uses spear-phishing to enter the system. After it has entered, the cryptocurrency mining begins. Before that, PowerGhost does its best to disable any security solutions & rivaling cry.
- Graboid: The worst part is that it spreads too fast. It acts like a computer insect, which is somewhat rare.
- Monero: This one parasite on the Docker network to attach user desktops. The hackers put the harmful code inside Docker images - that's how they enter.
- Badshell: We have one of the highly advanced and harmful miners. It exploits PowerShell to release scripts that apply a crypto code into an active process. Later, it uses the Task Manager & the Registry to keep this code alive & working 24/7.
- Facexworm: This one is right there in the top-3. It covers itself as a Chrome extension & uses Fb's Messenger to do its dirty work.
- CoinMiner: The main aim of the CoinMiner is to search & remove already-running miners. It's not rare for a targeted computer to be already contaminated, and "killers" like the CoinMiner are essential to guarantee maximum productivity of the newly placed crypto-jackers.
This is a real threat, and you can be their next target no matter how secluded you seem from cryptocurrency. Being an organization, you must include crypto-jacking awareness in training sessions & all measures discussed above to make yourself impenetrable from such attacks.
Technology changes very fast. Hence, if you don't keep updated with security protocols, you might be a victim, so it's better to be safe.