Cryptojacking – Emerging risk of the online world

November 14, 2018

Cryptojacking – Emerging risk of the online world

           It can’t be denied that cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity. For instance, Venezuela now officially requires citizens to pay for passport processing fees using the country’s cryptocurrency “Petro”. However, popularity also carries risks as we are seeing a rise in cryptojacking, the act of stealing computer resources to mine cryptocurrency. The mechanism of cryptojacking starts with a few lines of code that attackers place in a web page. When an unsophisticated user visits an infected website such as a free movie streaming site, the code will secretly use the user’s computer to mine a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Monero. This might not only crash a personal computer but bring down an organization’s entire network.

           Cisco’s has revealed that Thailand ranks 4th in the Asia-Pacific and 18th in the world when it comes to cryptojacking attacks. Some 74% of organizations in Thailand have been cryptojacked, with estimated losses of $500,000 (around 16 million Baht) while over 5,000 attacks are reported daily. As a result, 77% of investors have halted their investment due to a lack of security.
Recently in Japan Asahi Shimbun reported the arrest of 16 suspects aged 18-48 for cryptojacking. These suspects allegedly planted a malware called Coinhive into a website. Whenever a user visits it through a web browser, the malware will penetrate the user’s device and start mining for Monero, causing total damage of around 120,000 Yen (35,000 Baht).

           The security wing of Cisco in the Asia-Pacific believes that basic security and privacy measures are not enough for today’s organizations. They recognize that clients not only look for only initial protection, but rather a complete prevention that covers security, privacy, and compliance with data laws. To cope with this problem, General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) were issued by the European Union earlier this year. Other similar policies will follow suit.

           To make an initial check to see if your computer has been cryptojacked, look at your Task Manager and close any irregular data-heavy task. After this disable Javascript and use plug-in browsers such as Nocoin to prevent code injections from websites. However, keep in mind that cryptojacking only happens when the website is open. As such, if you avoid opening any suspicious websites, you will be safe.

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