Unfortunately, it's fairly easy for a hacker to start using your computer to help mine for Bitcoin. This new threat is called cryptojacking. Recently, a cryptojacking campaign affected nearly 5,000 websites, including a number of UK and US government sites through a flaw in a third-party application. Hackers took advantage of this flaw to mine currency using something called Coinhive.
"For the end user, there's not much you can do to protect yourself from cryptojacking beyond using anti-virus software or an ad blocker in your browser," a security expert said. If a website you visit does start mining cryptocurrency with your computer, closing the page should stop the activity. There are also browser extensions such as NoCoin which can also be used to block Coinhive and other cryptocurrency miners.
You should probably start analyzing how much computing power your browser uses by opening the Activity Monitor (on Macs) or the Resource Monitor (on Windows computers). These are built-in tools that let you see which applications, like Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer or Safari, are using the most energy. When you visit a website running a cryptominer, you would be able to see a large spike in computing power on the graph below this section. Another tell-tale sign of mining is to hear your computer's fan kick on when you visit a certain website. If your browser suddenly slows down dramatically, your computer may be compromised.
Sadly, this is just the beginning of cryptojacking. It is expected to become more and more popular with hackers since they can get more money for less risk. "Hackers see cryptojacking as a cheaper, more profitable alternative to ransomware," says industry expert Alex Vaystikh. With ransomware attacks, a hacker might get three people to pay for every 100 computers infected, he explains. With cryptojacking, all 100 of those infected machines work constantly for the hacker to mine cryptocurrency.
If you have serious concerns that one of your computers may be affected, please talk with your IT professional or call eNet Systems at 281-403-9561 or email.