New CryptoJacking Research Data Suggests Criminals Generated Over $50 million in Last Decade
Analysts Sergio Pastrana and Guillermo Suarez-Tangil in its latest report have found that criminals have jacked up $50 million from mining cryptocurrency through embedding malware into victims computer without their prior knowledge or consent. The process of using someone's computational power to mine cryptocurrency is known as crypto jacking.
Cryptocurrencies are different from the fiat ones as it works on the principle of a Distributed Ledger Technology aka blockchain. In a decentralized network like cryptocurrency, the peers on the network are responsible for verifying a transaction instead of centralized authority like the bank.
Each network which works on the proof of work consensus encrypts every transaction with a digital signature, which has a predefined output for every input and making even the slightest of change to the input can drastically change the output.
In order to verify these transactions, the peers on the network have to input certain hash power or computational power to solve the encrypted code. The process of verifying the transaction is called mining and the miners receive a certain block reward for the same. As technology makes it difficult for the scammers to make changes in the ledger to siphon money out of the network, they resort to other means like cryptojacking to accumulate cryptocurrencies.
Crypto Jacking Is A Growing Concern In Crypto Space
The crypto jacking phenomenon has become a nightmare for the stakeholders of various cryptocurrency networks, especially those who make use of Proof-of-work. The process is quite simple where the scammers put malware scrypt into the website and when a visitor land on that page, the malware gets planted onto their computer without their knowledge or consent. The malware then makes use of a victim's computational power to mine cryptocurrencies, and the victim has to bear the brunt in the form of the high electricity bill.
The process has become a nuisance since its very difficult to contain or even detect. In most cases, user's don't even realize that their computers have been jacked for months. The reward is sent to the scammers who were responsible for plating the malware.
Those who are well-versed with the crypto space and what is mining might feel that computational power from home-based PC does not really make much for the profits, but what they seem to miss is the scale at which these scammers work. Any simple website with enough resources for the consumers can get thousands of visitors on a daily basis, and when you combine all of them, it makes for a small mining farm with multiple top-end mining gears.
What Does The Report Say?
As per the research conducted by Analysts Sergio Pastrana and Guillermo Suarez-Tangil, the impact of malware based crypto mining has a far-reaching effect then what many could imagine or think off. The report analyzed a total of 4.4 million malware samples out of which 1 million were used for crypto jacking. The analysis followed a time frame of twelve years, from 2007 to 2018.
The analysis report followed the trails to wallets and mining pools and concluded that this malware netted the criminals with $56millionn worth of cryptocurrencies depending on the type of cryptocurrencies mined and their respective prices.
Monero Is The Choice Of Crypto Jackers
The analysis also found that Monero (XMR) was the most preferable choice of scammers, which is not surprising given the fact that Monero is one of the most popular privacy centered crypto tokens which promises total anonymity and very hard to track.
Another astonishing revelation suggests that more than 4% of the total circulation supply of Monero has come from crypto jacking and mining through malware scripts.
The Monero team behind the network is well aware of the mining vulnerabilities and they have taken appropriate measures in the form of hard-forks to contain the issue.
How To Avoid Being A Victim Of Crypto Jacking?
Crypto Jacking focused malware scripts are very difficult to detect as it is often hidden underneath lines of genuine codes. Thus, people can only take a few precautionary measures to avoid being a victim of crypto jacking.
First and foremost, ensure that your computer has a paid version of a genuine malware detector or anti-malware software programme, and also ensure that you regularly update the security patch of the software.
Second, avoid clicking on unwanted ads on the internet or going on unsecured pages, usually, these scammers play on the vulnerabilities of the users where they post attractive ads on the internet which are too good to be true. Always remember, nothing in this world comes for free and if something over the internet looks too good to be true, then its more likely a scam.
Cryptocurrency mining through embedded malware is also known as crypto jacking has been a headache for the crypto community. Cryptocurrency network's core team have been looking to make necessary changes into their mining consensus to avoid being a victim. But, the hard truth is that these malwares are quite difficult to detect and user discretion is must to avoid such nuisances.
Hopefully, as time progresses and the technology gets refined and more advanced, till the time, precautions are the best measure.