how to self check personal computers for cryptocurrency mining malware

Cryptocurrency mining is a resource-intensive task that requires a massive amount of computing power. To work around this, many crypto miners combine their computing resources together into “mining pools”. These platforms share processing power in order to generate reliable income from crypto mining.

There is a dark side to this technique, however, that is currently being used to parasitize computers around the world and, unbeknownst to their owners, use their computing power and bandwidth to mine crypto. A number of high-profile platforms including Showtime and The Pirate Bay have even been caught secretly using the processing power of page visitors to mine cryptocurrency for economic gain.

Many users of these sites responded with indignation, as well as an understandable amount of fear and concern regarding the vulnerability of users that visit these platforms on a regular basis and spend a significant amount of time on them. There are a number of measures that can be used to protect yourself from these processing power harvesting techniques.

The primary contention most users have with the harvesting of processing power through subterfuge is the secrecy involved. The Pirate Bay issued a public apology for their clandestine mining actions, stating that using visitor processing power to mine cryptocurrency to them was a more favorable alternative to banner advertising, which is problematic for what is technically an illegal website.

Some users were not particularly concerned about the use of their processing power, but were unhappy with what was generally received as a betrayal of trust and unnecessary secrecy. If you’re not happy with the idea of your CPU cycles being used to mine cryptocurrency, however, there are several ways to check whether your computer is being hijacked by processor pirates.

Check Your CPU Usage

The simplest way to determine if your PC is being used to mine cryptocurrency is to assess its CPU usage. By opening the resource monitor of your computer, it’s possible to view a list of applications and processes that are currently using processing power.

Observing a noticeable spike in CPU usage when viewing specific sites that don’t show any outward signs of CPU-intensive media is a key indicator that there may be Javascript running that is taxing or hijacking your processing power. If you’re still observing high CPU usage after closing your browser, it’s possible you may have a crypto mining malware issue.

Install An Ad Blocker

Ad blockers can dramatically improve your user experience online, but also serve to protect your computer from CPU piracy. Mining hijacking can occur when simply visiting sites, but there have been scenarios in which infected advertisements on sites have facilitated CPU piracy.

Running an ad blocker can put a stop to CPU piracy delivered by malicious advertisements. There are a number of ad blocking solutions that are specifically designed to filter in browser CPU hijacking attacks such as Coinhive. While not necessary malware, Coinhive does provide legitimate Javascript-based mining solutions, and has publicly condemned Showtime for their clandestine use of their technology.

Check For Malware

Outside of browser-based CPU piracy attacks, there are other more sophisticated forms of malware that are able to penetrate into the system of an infected PC. This kind of malware is commonly delivered via infected image files or links to sites that host browser exploits. It’s also possible to identify this kind of malware through the resource monitor.

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