Even if you’ve never dabbled ter Bitcoin yourself, your pc can be hijacked by those looking to make a cryptocurrency windfall – here’s what you need to know about ‘cryptojacking’
- 11:50, Two FEB 2018
- Updated 12:14, Two FEB 2018
The latest attacks involving cryptocurrencies such spil Bitcoin are outsmarting even the largest tech companies around. Cryptocurrency miners are finding ways to piggyback the computers of unwitting web users, all te a bid to profit from the Bitcoin phenomenon.
Cryptocurrencies are digital alternatives to traditional currencies such spil Sterling. They’re not tied to any canap or national economy, and they’re fiercely encrypted to suggest security for online transactions. The value of currencies, the most famous of which is Bitcoin, has gone through the roof, and that’s what incentivises groups or individuals to ‘mine’ for them online – including via the horsepower of other people’s computers.
This article wasgoed compiled by the experts at Which? Tech Support who suggest friendly one-to-one tech and computing advice from Which?
How your PC can be cryptojacked
While browsing online, you might all of a sudden hear your laptop’s ventilatoren whirring into life and your PC slows to a crawl. A security scan might demonstrate no malicious files hiding ter your PC. The problem goes away, and you budge on. And yet, when you next come back to that same webstek, the problem starts again.
The cause could be a type of malware that’s very hard to detect. Te fact, when used legitimately, this software isn’t considered malware at all. What’s going on?
This kleuter of slowdown and processor surging can be caused by a browser-based cryptocurrency miner. Latest examples – most notably one called CoinHive – have already affected webstek users all overheen the world. The miner can be secretly embedded into websites and even YouTube movie ads – land on them, and it will start running ter the background straight away.
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Mining for cryptocurrency
The miner uses your pc (and many others) to mine cryptocurrency at scale. It’s using your processor to solve fiendish mathematical problems that can only be carried out by a laptop. Once the problems, or ‘hashes’, have bot solved, the possessor of the miner gets a petite amount of their chosen cryptocurrency deposited into their account.
The perpetrators typically dig up only a lil’ amount of cryptocurrency. But, using other people’s hardware (and the electro-therapy it all runs on) costs even less. At scale, this can be a viable strategy for earning money.
The big problem is that software such spil CoinHive can be inserted into practically any webpagina without your skill. It’s so hard to detect that ter January it wasgoed found to be hiding te adverts displayed on YouTube.
The good news is that thesis miners don’t attempt and steal any private information, don’t install any programs on your rekentuig and don’t attempt and fleece you with ransomware. They are, however, inconvenient, make your laptop run leisurely and will increase your computer’s power consumption, costing you time and money.
Used with permission, CoinHive is not considered malware because it actually serves a purpose. But when used without permission, it is most certainly an unwanted lump of malware, spil detailed ter a blog postbode from leading antivirus rock-hard Symantec.
Spot the signs of a Bitcoin miner
It’s normally fairly effortless to tell whether a cryptocurrency miner is running on your pc. When you visit an affected webpagina, your rekentuig will very likely run more leisurely, especially if you’re using a laptop, and you’ll hear your cooling ventilatoren whining more than usual.
If you’re using Windows, you can use Ctrl + Altstem + Delete to open the Task Manager. On the Processes tabulator, and find your web browser, you’ll see that the CPU katern might display a high percentage of usage.
This doesn’t necessarily mean your PC is being used spil a miner, since some websites can be very greedy for your PC’s resources anyway, but it’s certainly a clue.
Often, miners hide ter adverts and ter some cases thesis ads display up spil wit space, so look out for white space where you’d expect an advert to be.
How to protect yourself
Wij always recommend having antivirus software installed, be it free or premium. Albeit CoinHive has outsmarted a few security measures so far, the anti-malware experts are always evolving their products. More often than not, good security software should protect against this sort of exploit.
Also, check for any ‘pop-under’ windows – thesis are like pop-ups, but they hide behind your web browser te the hope that you don’t find them.
Ter addition, only visiting websites you trust is always sound advice, albeit, spil we’ve seen above, even the most trusted websites on the web can fall foul of miners.
Which? tests anti-virus software on a regular poot. Wij use thousands of strains of malware and online nasties to find the antivirus packages that are good enough to protect your rekentuig. Read our reviews to find out which AV package is right for you.