With the appearance of a new way of earning money, there are always those who honestly use it and those who want to enrich themselves at the expense of others. This pattern also affected the cryptocurrency market, where, along with the usual mining of coins, the so-called hidden mining cryptocurrency appeared. What is it and how widespread? We will describe in this article!
Hidden mining (or, as it is also called, cryptojacking ) is the unauthorized use of the computing power of other people to mine cryptocurrency.
When did this scheme appear? At the same time, when usual mining and cryptocurrency began to work, in 2011. Symantec, which develops antivirus software, said that common viruses can be used for the hidden mining of coins.
When the world first saw Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, many people found out about a new way of earning money and rushed to get coins in large quantities. However, there were those who decided that it was much easier to earn money at someone else’s expense.
Until 2013, hidden mining was used primarily for the extraction of BTC. After all, this is not only the first but also the most popular cryptocurrency. However, when it switched to specialized farms and ASIC miners, it became much more difficult to mine Bitcoin.
With the increase of this indicator, the extraction of coins becomes less profitable. After all, in order to make a profit, you have to increase the hash rate. So, you need to buy more powerful equipment that consumes much more electricity. Ordinary miners went for it, and the fraudsters continued to steal the hash rate from others.
The real expanse for lovers of hidden mining began in 2014 when the Monero cryptocurrency appeared. As planned by the developers, for its production enough power average PC. This began to use both ordinary miners and scammers.
The malicious file must contain a special script that starts the process of mining the desired cryptocurrency. In addition, it is necessary to register the blockchain address of the cryptography in which the naming coins will flow.
Some miner bots contain other scripts that allow you not only to mine coins on someone else’s equipment but also to withdraw assets from the owner’s crypto sheath (if he has one, of course).
Most hidden miners are very similar to Trojans and other popular viruses, in structure. However, unlike classic malware, their main task is not to steal resources or information, but to use the technical power of a computer. As we have said, there are miner bots for the theft of cryptocurrency.
Many malicious programs are freely available on the net. Anyone can steal someone else’s hash rate. However, advanced scammers prefer to create a miner of bots on their own, prescribing the scripts they need.
When a bot is downloaded or created, it must be installed on other people’s computers. The more computers are, the better it is. After all, you cannot get a lot of coins on one PC. Ordinary miners increase the power of equipment to increase the hash rate, and fraudsters simply connect more equipment to the process.
Very often, attackers are looking for victims in large mining pools. Indeed, unlike random users, their members accurately own a large hash rate. Having access to other computers, fraudsters create their own mining pools and get coins without spending money to buy equipment and pay for electricity.
In 2011- 2016, few people knew about hidden mining. The fraudsters worked quietly and did not make particularly resonant attacks. However, there was a series of attacks that drew attention to the problem of hidden mining in 2017, not only in the cryptocurrency community but also in the field of global cybersecurity.
Moreover, the attackers managed to inject malware into the Facebook messenger, extensions for Google Chrome, and some Google Play applications. Only in the second half of last year, fraudsters managed to earn more than five million dollars on hidden mining.
The situation worsened in 2018. Millions of ordinary users and every fifth business company in the world have become victims of hidden mining. In March alone, about 16 million attempts at hidden mining of popular altcoins were recorded.
Among the countries with the highest level of cryptojacking, the experts name the USA, India, and Russia. The main cryptocurrencies that fraudsters get on someone else’s computing power have been Monero and ZCash for a couple of years.
You can protect yourself from hidden mining cryptocurrency. The usual anti-virus programs (for example, Kaspersky) and PC scanning utilities (Malwarebytes, AdwCleaner, and others) can detect extraneous files that launch hidden mining.
However, lately, more sophisticated cryptojacking programs have begun to appear that are very difficult to track. Many of them erase traces of their stay on the PC, and some are generally embedded directly into the browser and get into the computer when the user visits the infected site.
According to experts, browser miner bots are the greatest threat and are becoming more common. They attracted particular attention when it turned out that the bots were implemented even in the official extensions of popular browsers.
The first positive shifts occurred at the beginning of this year. Thus, Opera developers have added a utility to protect users from miner bots embedded in web sites to the new version of the browser (Opera 50).
Over the development and implementation of such software and Google engineers thought. So far, their main idea is to build in Google Chrome browser a special utility that will translate suspicious web pages into the so-called power-saving mode.
Pages suspected to be suspicious will cause a sharp increase in CPU utilization. Most of the processes of the web site will be limited or even suspended in energy-saving mode, and the user will see a warning sign.
However, so far this idea is only at the discussion stage. It is known that Google’s management was skeptical and is considering other solutions to the problem.
However, the effect of their use may not be as significant as we would like. They will protect users from malicious software that anyone can download. However, we must not forget that experienced fraudsters are constantly improving bots and quickly find ways to bypass the block.
Most analysts are confident that in the next two years the problem of hidden mining will remain relevant. Finding an effective way to solve it is very difficult.
Users, who know about hidden mining or working on the cryptocurrency market use security programs and utilities. However, most people do not know about the problem or about the precautions. So, become easy targets for scammers.
However, experts believe that, due to the increased scale of the problem and the frequent attacks on the corporate sector, hidden mining will receive maximum publicity.
In addition, leading software developers and even government experts in the field of cybersecurity are involved in opposition. Work in this direction is already underway in the US, UK, Germany and other developed countries.
So there is every reason to believe that in a few years the scale of the problem will significantly decrease. How will the ease of hidden mining decrease? Attackers have to put more and more effort to earn on someone else’s computing power.
The fact is that the complexity of the mining of most cryptocurrencies is growing, and in order to maintain profits, you need to constantly connect more and more computers to the process. It is likely that in a year or two, hidden mining will become generally unprofitable.
For fraudsters alone, it is unprofitable now. If a few years ago it was still possible quietly connect to computers and steal someone else’s hash rate, then today it’s very difficult to work alone. Simple miner bots that can be downloaded from the Internet are easily blocked by antivirus software. And complex bots still need to be able to create.
According to experts, the majority of successful attacks are carried out in whole groups. Some members of the group are engaged in the development of malware, while others are involved in its distribution and implementation.
Many experts speak of five six major groups, which last year earned about seven million dollars on hidden mining and continue their activities today. True, they now face a serious rebuff.
For example, in March of this year, a major attack, planned by one of these groups, failed. Microsoft engineers noticed and prevented the attack on time, and users with Windows Defender installed did not even know about it. They were protected from miner bots automatically.
Therefore, those who want to make money on cryptocurrency, it is much better to do the usual honest mining. Moreover, some popular cryptocurrencies (for example, Monero or ZCash) are quite accessible in this regard.
In addition, many Altcoins already use or plan to use PoS mining, in which the computing power of the equipment does not matter at all.