Mining cryptocurrency used to require thousands of dollars worth of equipment to see any kind of meaningful return, but not anymore. Newer digital currencies like Monero, ByteCoin, and AEON have given would-be miners the ability to mine tokens right from their laptops. This might benefit small-time miners that want to get involved in the sector, but for every good thing online there are always people that figure out a way to use it for bad.
Hackers have begun using these tools to infect computers and websites to secretly mine cryptocurrencies. This emerging type of malware attack has been dubbed as “cryptojacking”, and it could cause your computer to overheat and crash. Luckily, spotting these hidden miners isn’t all that difficult.
Cryptojacking essentially hijacks your computer’s CPU power to mine. This means when you’re browsing the web, the malware is running in the background completely unbeknownst to you. There are a few types of this malware, and some run only when you visit a certain website and others can be maliciously installed on your computer. The best way to prevent this is by using antivirus software and adblockers.
If you’ve already been hit with this kind of malware, you’ll notice either your computer acting sluggish, getting warmer than usual, or its fan constantly spinning. If you aren’t running any kind of demanding software, like video games or video editing programs, this should be the first hint that your computer is working overtime.
If you’ve noticed your laptop acting up, it’s time to go check on what’s going on under the hood. Mac users can view a detailed breakdown of everything their computer is running by searching “Activity Monitor” and using the magnifying glass icon at the top-right of the screen. Windows users can simply hold down the Ctrl-Alt-Del keys to bring up “Task Manager.”
Both of these menus will display a graph of how much of your computer’s processing power is being used. Any massive spikes should be red flags. You’ll also see an ordered list of the programs using the most processing power at the moment. Before ending any of these programs be sure to research what they are, as you could be ending a crucial part of your operating system.
Both Tesla and the Los Angeles Times have had their sites infected by cryptojacking software. Companies with popular websites are the most at risk, as hackers can embed code onto their servers and use the CPU power of everyone who visits the site. But making it a habit to check on how your computer is running will ensure your device isn’t getting used to make someone else a crypto fortune.