Cybersecurity experts warn users about crypto malware — a new way criminals use their victim’s devices to earn money.
A survey by NordVPN showed that every third user is afraid of losing access to the files on their computer due to a cyberattack. The experts noticed that even though the scenario of losing a piece of private information is scary for many people, there are other ways cybercriminals can profit from hacking someone’s device.
“The new type of malware we see spreading is crypto malware. The biggest problem is that it is difficult to detect for an average computer user because no data is lost,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN. “You may think you don’t need to worry because you don’t own or have never used cryptocurrency. But crypto mining malware doesn’t typically include hackers stealing funds from the victim’s cryptocurrency wallet, just using their device to mine. And as a result — making the victim’s device very slow.”
Criminals mine crypto using their victims’ resources
Mining cryptocurrency requires a lot of computer power to solve complex mathematical puzzles, adding new blocks of transactions to the blockchain. Once all the problems in a block are solved, the miners get their rewards in cryptocurrency.
However, the problem is that the process is very slow and requires incredible processing power. In fact, the electricity a computer generates would probably cost more than the cryptocurrency it could mine. That is why cybercriminals look for ways to mine cryptocurrency using other people’s devices.
By infecting a network of computers with malware, hackers can mine crypto while using their victims’ electricity, devices, and computing power to increase their profits. Victims might not even notice that their device is mining crypto. The only sign may be slower performance and overheated devices.
Some of the ways to detect malware — check if your computer gets hot or slow
“Detecting crypto malware on your device can be very difficult. It’s designed to be as stealthy as possible. However, certain signs can help you determine that your device may have been infected,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, cybersecurity advisor at NordVPN.
The first sign that your device may be mining some criminal crypto in the background is that the device gets significantly slower. Another sign is an overheated device with the fan always on. Lastly, the CPU (central processing unit) usage will be very high if your device gets infected.
If you want to prevent your device from being infected, here are several actions you can take:
- Keep all devices and applications up to date. Crypto malware often uses unpatched flaws in systems. The faster you update your software and operating system, the harder it is for malware to infect your device.
- Use antivirus software. Antivirus software, such as NordVPN’s Threat Protection, will scan files you download for malware, making it difficult for cybercriminals to install it on your device. It will also block your access to malicious websites, minimizing the threat of phishing.
- Practice good internet behavior. Don’t click on suspicious links, don’t download suspicious documents, and try not to visit untrusted websites. There are many ways in which cryptojacking malware could be delivered.