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There’s a recent trend of cybercrime where there’s a possibility that your computer is being used to mine cryptocurrency without your knowledge. So can you find out if your PC is being used for crpytojacking?
Yes, you can. When crypto is mined using your computer, it starts getting slow, overheating, taking you to suspicious websites, and having unusually high electricity bills.
What is Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is done online by malicious cybercriminals. They use other people’s devices without their consent. Cybercrime is executed by sending links to the victim’s email addresses. After clicking such links, programs created to mine crypto automatically launch on your device.
It will not show on your device because it is something you are not supposed to know about. Instead, it works as a background program. The program is usually large, which is why it affects the functioning of other programs and makes your computer overwork as it tries to contain the heavy program.
Usually, cybercriminals use cryptojacking to generate income. How? When they have an extensive network of connected computers, they become more competitive than their counterparts.
Is Cryptojacking Illegal?
Even though cryptojacking has no direct effect on the victim, there is no way it can be considered legal. Firstly, the miners use phishing software that they do not let the victim know about. Then, such a program affects the usual operation of a victim’s device, making them think there is a problem with their devices.
As if affecting the devices’ speed is not enough, the victim is left with unexpected high electrical expenses. It can lead to a heated debate with the power provider, where the victim ends up accusing the provider of interfering with their bills.
It is also illegal because while the victim is left with all the burden to bear alone, the miner makes huge profits at negligible expenses. See, it is technically exploiting the victim since their property is being used without their consent nor a form of compensation.
Besides being left with hefty power bills and a slow device, victims are also left vulnerable to other cybercriminals. The vulnerability can make them lose data to such criminals and may never recover from such losses.
How is Cryptojacking Done?
Cryptojacking does not involve physical contact between the victim and the miner. Instead, everything happens online, and the process is almost undetectable.
Although the primary method crypto miners use is sending self-launching links upon clicking to the victims’ emails, they also have other methods they use.
We live at an age where people are hungry for information and take a particular interest in anything that is done online.
So, information about cryptocurrencies is in high demand as people look for ways to have extra sources of income.
When crypto-mining using other people’s devices, it was referred to as drive-by crypto mining. The website owners informed you that they would like to use your device for the trade. Usually, there used to be an exchange of something, for example, free consumption of the website’s premium content.
However, such deals only occurred while you were on the website and stopped using your devices when you left their pages. However, as malicious people learned about the lucrative returns got by such deals, they started misusing the drive-by deals.
Often, they would start using your device after visiting their sites and continue even after you leave.
Some codes are very contagious in that when they infect one of your devices, they continue affecting your other devices. So, you will be sabotaged if you rely on your devices to have your work done.
That kind of device infection is costly to companies. They have to pay for IT experts to check the source of the problem with their systems.
So, really, it might seem like a harmless intrusion, but the harm caused is dire.
Some signs that show when your computer is being used for mining cryptocurrencies are easy to ignore, especially when your device is old.
You can be tempted to think it is due to age and the effects of wear and tear you are experiencing such. But, some signs that your computer is being used to mine cryptos include:
High CPU Usage
The usage remains high, even when none of your programs is running. You can check your CPU usage by opening your task manager.
Here, you will find all the running programs on your device. If there is one that looks unfamiliar, you should find more about it and disable it.
For standard tasks, your CPU usage should not exceed 30%. Know your device is being used for crypto mining. Often antivirus or anti-malware can block such codes from infecting your devices.
When performing regular tasks, your computer seldom heats. However, when a miner starts using your device, you start experiencing unusually high temperatures from the bottom of your computer.
Often, malware causes your device to work more than it should.
Surprisingly, your device can continue overheating even when not in use. You will also start noticing your battery getting drained faster than usual if you use a laptop.
When your machine starts behaving this way, it is time to have a look at your task manager to identify unusual programs.
The mention of suspicious websites leaves most people thinking about adult content. Although most websites offering adult content infect devices, it is wrong to accuse them of the activity solely.
Other sites have enticing images and headlines that prompt us to click. Usually, they are unsafe for browsing. And when we visit them, we expose our devices to attacks by cryptojacking.
Unreasonable Power Bills
When targeting their victims, cryptojackers targets areas where electricity is not expensive. That way, it is easy for them to get away with it without raising suspicions.
However, users have their monthly minimum and power usage, depending on what they have used it with, even in such areas.
So, when you often use your computer and realize the month’s bill has exceeded your usual maximum, someone may be using your device to mine cryptocurrencies virtually.
So, check your task manager to identify the program causing you such problems.
How to Protect Against Cryptojacking?
Of course, you won’t feel comfortable thinking that someone is using your devices without your consent. Here is how you can protect yourself from these malicious miners:
- Even when you find an enticing headline or photos of your favorite celebrity, avoid clicking them, especially if questionable websites provide them.
- Disable unauthorized programs on your device and install antivirus or anti-malware. Free versions also work fine.
- Never open unsolicited links from your email. It is where the malware comes hidden, and you won’t realize it until your device starts behaving abnormally.