Cryptocurrency. Almost everybody who’s into tech and finance knows what it is and why it’s relevant to us. Decentralized online cash systems provide a transparent, yet secure database. The extreme volatility of online currency make it incredibly alluring to almost anyone who is looking for a good investment with a low barrier to entry.
However, as we all know, the more new tech that comes out, the more security risks that get introduced as a result of the not-yet-fully understood innovation. Technology has always been mankind’s greatest tool, but it can cause a lot of problems when it falls into the wrong hands.
A new security threat has emerged in the form of cryptojacking. It is the unauthorized use of a someone else’s computer (and the computing power found therein) to mine cryptocurrency. This is often done by getting hapless victims to download a file that contains a crypto mining code onto their computer.
This is harmful in the way that it robs people of their computer’s processing power. Computers will slow down, some may even become so overworked that they overheat and need to be replaced earlier in their lifespan. This is as insidious as spreading malware, except in this case, the crypto criminals actually make money from it.
Gamers are more susceptible and more desirable as targets for these new crypocriminals. Here’s why:
Gamers Often Have Powerful Rigs
Cryptomining for some currencies requires a great deal of processing power in order to perform the verification process. Modern gaming requires really powerful hardware to run, so gamers typically have more powerful PCs. This high-end hardware can allow more effective bitcoin mining.
Additionally, gamers are a safer target because the extra power makes it hard to notice when some of it is missing. Someone who has a normal PC that suddenly can’t function normally anymore will likely check for viruses immediately. A powerful PC that has been jacked may still be able to run browsers and lower-end games as if there was no problem at all.
Games Are Downloaded By The Millions
If you’re a hacker and you are able to determine what your target is going to do, then it’s as easy as being a tiger, lying in wait among the tall grass. Major online titles make for nice staging grounds for a cryptojacking attack because gamers swarm online looking for download links. By posting fake downloads, hackers can collect victims with powerful PCs like fish in a barrel.
A prime example of how this was executed can be seen in how hackers were able to add a crytomining code in a League of Legends patch. While the client has since been removed, it remains to be seen if the computers that were infected with the code have been properly cleared of it.
Another example could be found in the recent instance when a game named “Abstracism” was removed from the Steam store because it was found to contain cryptojacking software.
How Do You Protect Yourself?
First you need to detect it. This is easily done by taking note of your resource manager figures. A clear indication that your computer may be infected will come in the form of abnormally-high CPU usage from your browser. If closing the browser doesn’t lower the CPU usage, then your computer is definitely infected.
Once you’ve detected cryptojacking software, then it’s just a matter of fighting fire with fire. There are a lot of malware removal tools that are available on the internet. And if your computer isn’t infected with cryptojacking software, then be sure to make effective use of preventative Chrome extensions such as No Coin and minerBlock.