Cybersecurity firm McAfee released a report this Thursday which showed a massive uptick in the use of cryptojacking malware over the course of 2018.
A word that could have been coined only in the strange world of cryptocurrency, cryptojacking is a process by which someone takes control of your computer and uses its power to mine cryptocurrencies.
Insidiously, if someone’s computer is infected by a piece of cryptojacking malware, it is unlikely they will even realize what has occurred. The malware is likely to cause a slow down in your computer’s performance, but it is not obvious what it is that’s wrong.
Though a lot of malware is downloaded on to a person’s computer, cryptojacking can also be done purely online. For example, a number of websites were found to be using visitors’ computer power as they browsed through the sites’ pages.
Statistics vary as to how much money cryptojackers really make but, according to McAfee’s report, they can do well if they are able to secure a large volume of computers. As you can imagine, an individual computer isn’t going to do much but ten thousand working together could.
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McAfee Fighting Back
Reports of cryptojacking can be traced as far back as 2016, and the number of cases certainly grew in 2017. But it was this year when things really took off.
According to McAfee, the number of cryptojacking malware programs grew by 4,000 percent throughout 2018. Most were sent by fraudsters on messaging apps. Users looking for software to fix cryptocurrency-related problems were sent downloads purporting to be solutions to those problems.
More sneakily, some hackers attached cryptojacking extensions to versions of the open-source media player Kodi.
Given the slide in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over the last couple of months, it will be interesting to see whether there will be an equivalent decline in the level of cryptojacking.
It is unlikely, however, that the problem will disappear entirely so prepare yourselves, Finance Magnates reader, the mining hackers are out there, and they want your computer power.