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Cryptojacking is on the rise, and it’s here to stay

Cryptojacking - The rise of the new Cyber Security Crime
Cryptojacking - The rise of the new Cyber Security Crime

Imagine someone secretly using your phone to make their calls, draining your battery and your data plan. That’s what cryptojacking does to your business’s computers. It’s a cyber sneak attack where hackers use your computers to mine cryptocurrency without you knowing. This slows down your systems and shows that your business’s defences have been breached. Scary, right?

Cryptojacking is rising. Infact, Cryptojacking rose by 659% in 2023, reported SonicWall. This makes Cryptojacking a hidden danger for businesses, affecting performance and costs. But what exactly is it, and why is it a problem? More importantly, how can you stop it? This article breaks down everything you need to know about cryptojacking—what it is, its impact, and how to protect your business—without the jargon. 

Cryptojacking is when hackers use your business’s computers and devices to mine for cryptocurrency— a type of digital money—without you knowing. They don’t break in to steal data or money directly from you. Instead, they’re after the processing power of your devices. 

Mining cryptocurrency is like solving complex puzzles requiring a lot of computer power. Mining is expensive because it uses a lot of electricity and computing resources. Hackers avoid these costs by hijacking your devices to do the work for them. 

The catch is that while they’re making money by mining, your devices slow down, your electricity bills go up, and your business operations can be disrupted. It’s stealthy because there’s no obvious sign of a break-in, but the effects can still be costly to your business. 

Cryptojacking turns your business’s valuable resources into a secret money-making machine for cybercriminals, all happening right under your nose.

How Cryptojacking Works?

Cryptojacking works in 4 stages: 

Infiltration 

First, the cryptojacking script needs to get into your system. This can happen through a phishing email that someone in your company accidentally clicks, or it might hide on a website, waiting for a visit. These scripts are like tiny, hidden programs that start the unauthorised task once they are inside. 

Deployment 

Once the script is in, it runs silently in the background. It’s designed to be unnoticed, using just enough of your computer’s power so you don’t realise there’s an extra load. These scripts can infect individual desktops, laptops, or even entire servers. 

Mining 

With the script activated, your computers will start mining. In the world of cryptocurrency, mining verifies transactions and adds them to the public ledger (blockchain). It’s a puzzle-solving task that requires significant computing power. The cryptojacking script uses your computers to do this work, attempting to earn cryptocurrency for the hacker. 

Profit 

Any cryptocurrency mined through this process goes straight to the hacker’s digital wallet. All the while, your devices run slower, and your electricity bill spikes, but the hacker reaps the rewards without any of the costs.

The Impact of Cryptojacking on Business

The impact on businesses can be significant and multifaceted, affecting everything from daily operations to the bottom line. Here’s how: 

Slowed Down Systems 

The most immediate effect you’ll notice is that your computers and networks drag. Like a car trying to run with a flat tyre, computers mining cryptocurrency can’t operate at full speed. This slowdown affects productivity, as tasks take longer to complete. 

Increased Costs

As mentioned, mining cryptocurrency uses a lot of electricity. As your systems work overtime on the cryptojacking tasks, your energy bills may spike unexpectedly. These increased costs can significantly burden a business, especially with tight margins. 

Wear and Tear

Overworking your computers shortens their lifespan. The continuous, intensive processing required for mining means your hardware may need replacing sooner than planned, leading to unexpected expenses. 

Security Risks

If cybercriminals can sneak cryptojacking scripts into your system, it’s a sign that your security may have other vulnerabilities. This exposure can open the door to more dangerous attacks, like data breaches or ransomware. 

Reputation Damage 

Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. If your business is found to be unknowingly involved in cryptojacking, it can harm your reputation. Customers and supply chains want to know their data is safe with you, and any hint of cyber security weakness can make them think twice. Additionally, with supply chain attacks one of our cyber security threat concerns for 2024, businesses are increasingly concerned with whom they partner with from a cyber security standpoint.

Compliance Violations

Depending on your industry, falling victim to cryptojacking could mean you’re not complying with data protection regulations. Non-compliance can lead to fines and legal issues, adding more headaches and costs. 

Cryptojacking Statistics

Whilst Cryptojacking rose 659% between 2022 and 2023, it’s worth noting that SonicWall also categorised this data further. 

November and December of 2023 saw more Cryptojacking than the 12 months of 2022, combined. This frightening stat signifies that Crytojacking will play an active role in 2024.

Additionally, the largest increase in Cryptojacking was in Europe, with an increase of 1,045%.

Global Cryptojacking Volume 22-23
Source: SonicWall Cyber Threat Report 2024

Recognising the signs of Cryptojacking

Identifying Cryptojacking early can be challenging, as it’s designed to run undetected. However, some signs can hint at its presence in your systems. Knowing these indicators can help you catch and address cryptojacking before it causes significant harm. 

Unexplained Slowdown 

If your computers or networks suddenly operate slower than usual without an apparent reason, it could be a sign of cryptojacking. This slowdown might be particularly noticeable in systems that typically run smoothly. 

Overheating Devices 

Cryptojacking demands a lot of processing power, which can cause devices to overheat. If your computers or servers are hotter than usual, it’s worth investigating further. 

High CPU Usage 

Check your system’s resource monitor. If you see a high level of CPU usage when no demanding programs are running, this may indicate that cryptojacking scripts are active in the background. 

Increased Electricity Bills 

A subtle but clear indicator of cryptojacking can be a sudden increase in your electricity bill, as the intensive computing required for mining consumes a lot of power. 

Problems with Devices 

Devices crashing or performing poorly, especially if these issues arise suddenly and without an apparent cause, could also point to cryptojacking activities.

Recognising these signs requires regular monitoring and a baseline understanding of your systems’ performance levels. If you suspect cryptojacking, conducting a thorough investigation and taking immediate steps to remove the malicious scripts and secure your network is important. Reach out to your Cyber Security Experts as soon as possible!

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Responding to a Cryptojacking Incident

If you’ve identified signs of cryptojacking within your business’s systems, quick and decisive action is essential to mitigate its impact. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to respond:

Seek Professional Assistance 

The first step is to seek a cyber security expert’s help. Cyber experts can provide expertise to clean your systems and solidify your defences.

Educate Your Team 

Knowledgeable employees are your first line of defence. Our affordable and interactive Cyber Security Training Platform, Secure IT, is ideal for educating employees.

Isolate Affected Devices 

Immediately disconnect the affected computers or servers from the network to prevent the spread of the cryptojacking script. This includes disconnecting from Wi-Fi and any wired connections. 

Identify the Source 

Determine how the cryptojacking script was introduced to your system. Was it through a phishing email, a malicious website, or an unsecured network? Identifying the source can help prevent future incidents. 

Remove the Malicious Scripts 

Use antivirus or anti-malware tools to scan isolated devices and remove the cryptojacking scripts. It may be necessary to update your security software to ensure it can detect and eliminate the latest cryptojacking threats. 

Update and Patch Systems 

After removing the scripts, update all software, operating systems, and firmware to the latest versions. Install patches for any known vulnerabilities to strengthen your defences against future attacks. 

Monitor Network Activity 

Once the devices are clean and updated, carefully monitor network activity as you reconnect them. Look for any signs of recurring or new suspicious activity. 

Review and Improve Security Measures 

Use the incident to review and improve your cyber security measures. Consider whether outsourcing cyber security is an option for your business.

Worried about Cryptojacking?
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The Future of Cryptojacking

As we look into the future of cyber threats, statistics suggest Cryptojacking is here to stay.
Here’s a more straightforward take on what to expect and how to stay one step ahead: 

Cryptoacking Gets Smarter

Hackers are constantly upping their game, making cryptojacking trickier to spot. They’re finding new ways to sneak into systems, meaning we’ve all got to be on our toes. 

Targets Are Growing 

No one’s off the radar. Big companies, small businesses, and even personal devices could be next in line. The more devices we use, the more chances hackers can jump in. 

Crypto’s Roller Coaster 

The ups and downs of cryptocurrency values can make cryptojacking popular among hackers. Yet, if there’s money in it, they’ll keep at it. 

Rules May Tighten 

As the world catches on, we might see more laws and regulations trying to clamp down on cryptojacking. This could make things more challenging for cyber criminals, but they will likely find new loopholes. 

Better Guards at the Gate 

The excellent news is that our defences are improving, too. From smarter security software to AI helpers, we’re building better tools to keep cyber criminals at bay.

Knowledge is Power

The more we know about cryptojacking, the harder it is to be implemented on our devices.

Ready to start your Cyber Security journey?
Contact us today for a free consultation!

Conclusion

There we have it—Cryptojacking in a nutshell. It’s sneaky, and it’s evolving. Remember, the heart of staying safe isn’t just about having the fanciest tools (though they do help). It’s about keeping our eyes open, staying smart about the digital tracks we leave, and making sure we’re all clued in—for every person in your business. 

Here’s the takeaway:

  • Keep your software updated. 
  • Don’t click on shady links. 
  • Continual learning about Crytojacking. 

The more you know, the less attractive your business becomes as a target. And if the worst does happen and you spot the signs? Act fast, get the problem fixed, and learn from the experience.

Excellence IT is a cyber security-first Managed Service Provider based on the outskirts of Cardiff. If your business wants to begin your Cyber Security journey, enhance your Cyber Security systems or even protect against Cryptojacking, contact us today.

Tel: 02920 887 362

Email: info@excellence-it.co.uk

Cyrptojacking FAQ

Contact your IT support and Cyber Security Experts as soon as possible.

To contact Excellence IT:

Tel: 02920 887 362

Email: info@excellence-it.co.uk

There isn’t one silver bullet, but educating your team about the risks and signs of cryptojacking is a great start.

Knowledgeable employees are your first line of defence. Our affordable and interactive Cyber Security Training Platform, SecureIT, is an ideal place to educate employees.

Every business, regardless of size, can be a target. Small businesses are often seen as easier targets due to less sophisticated security systems, so staying vigilant is crucial for businesses of all sizes.

Yes, because many cryptojacking scripts exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software. Keeping everything updated closes these loopholes, making it harder for hackers to gain unauthorised access.

Some tools can help protect your business. However, we recommend contacting your IT and Cyber Security experts for more information.

You can contact Excellence IT here:

Tel: 029 2088 7362

Email: info@excellence-it.co.uk

Calum Edwards

As the Digital Marketing Lead at Excellence IT, I write content, create guides, and infographics on IT Support, Cyber Security, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for business.

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