Unlike malware we are more familiar with, cryptojacking scripts do not target user data or aim to harm the device. The real goal is utilizing the processing power of the infected machine to perform complex equations which yields the currency they are after. For most of those infected, the only sign would be a degradation in overall computer performance. When compounded this could lead to replacing perfectly fine servers and computers to remedy the newly occurring “slowness”.
Adguard, a company that provides ad blocking software, conducted a cryptojacking study late last year. They found that over 33,000 websites are currently running a crypto-mining script and those sites receive over 1 billion visits a month. The scale is already staggering and will continue to grow thanks in part to the availability of the malicious scripts.
The best way to combat a threat like this is the same as any other cyber-attack, awareness. From the IT team to the reception desk, everyone should know what they are clicking on and who sent them there. A sizable number of these sites generate traffic by getting someone to click a link from a phising style email. Another reminder to scrutinize links that show up in your inbox. Keeping your machines up to date with the most recent patches, a service we offer to our customers, is a step in the right direction to combat this new threat.
Another tip would be to review your browser’s add-ins and extensions. Take some time to look at your Chrome, Firefox or other browser extension list and remove anything you do not recognize. Ad blocker software can also be a viable defense as a preferred method of delivery of the scripts is through web ads. Check out ad blockers like MinerBlock or No Coin if you are looking for a reliable way to prevent your machine from falling prey to this new menace.