CryptoJacking – The Hidden Threat that Hijacks your Computer Processing Power

Gone are the days when the primary motive behind hacking was to gain attention. Today, the cyber threat landscape has evolved, with hackers embedding JavaScript code into websites with a different aim: cryptocurrency mining.

Surprising, isn’t it?

So, let’s explore the concept of CryptoJacking.

At its core, CryptoJacking is the unauthorized use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. Savvy cybercriminals have developed tactics to trick users into clicking on malicious email links, which then load crypto mining code onto their computers. Alternatively, these hackers might embed websites or online ads with JavaScript code that automatically runs when it loads in a user’s browser.

How can you tell if you’ve fallen victim to CryptoJacking? A noticeable slowdown in your computer’s performance or an unexplained spike in CPU temperature could be subtle indicators that your device is being exploited for mining.

How does CryptoJacking work?

CryptoJacking, at its essence, capitalizes on the principles of cryptocurrency mining but in a malicious manner. Cryptocurrency mining involves solving complex mathematical problems, and upon solving these problems, a new block is added to the blockchain and the miner is rewarded with a small amount of cryptocurrency. While this process is legitimate and integral to the functioning of most cryptocurrencies, it requires significant computational power.

This is where CryptoJacking comes into play. Instead of using their own computing resources, cybercriminals leverage the power of countless unsuspecting users’ devices. Here’s a breakdown of how the typical CryptoJacking process unfolds:

  1. Infection Point: The first step involves finding a way to deliver the malicious Crypro mining script to a large number of devices. This can be achieved through:
    Phishing-style emails: Users receive emails luring them to click on a link, which then runs the CryptoJacking script on their device.
    Compromised websites: Hackers can inject malicious scripts into popular websites. When users visit these sites, the script automatically runs in the background.
  2. Script Execution: Once the script is delivered and activated, it runs silently in the background without the user’s knowledge. This script then leverages the device’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency.
  3. Pooling Resources: To increase efficiency, the mining resources of multiple infected devices are often pooled together. This collective effort enhances the chances of solving the mathematical problems and reaping rewards.
  4. Transferring Rewards: After successful mining, the cryptocurrency reward is then transferred to the hacker’s wallet. Given the decentralized and often anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies, tracing these transactions can be challenging.
  5. Continuous Operation: The most insidious aspect of CryptoJacking is its stealthy nature. It continues to operate silently, often evading detection for extended periods. Over time, this not only degrades the performance of the infected device but also increases electricity bills and can cause wear and tear on the device.

CryptoJacking is jeopardizing companies and administrations

Cryptojacking by hacker9

In recent years, we have seen a surge in threats and cyber-attacks. While data breaches and malware have long been concerns, a new player has entered the arena: CryptoJacking. This clandestine form of cyber-attack has far-reaching consequences, particularly for companies and administrations that manage vast amounts of sensitive data and operate on intricate digital infrastructures.

The Tesla Incident: A Case Study

One of the most startling revelations came when the “Red Lock CSI” research group uncovered that Tesla, a renowned global corporation, fell prey to CryptoJacking. The hackers exploited vulnerabilities in Tesla’s Kubernetes console, which, alarmingly, was devoid of robust password protection. This breach wasn’t just a minor chink in the armor. It granted the assailants access to Tesla’s AWS environment, exposing sensitive telemetry data pertaining to Tesla vehicles.

This attack wasn’t a rudimentary hack but showcased a sophisticated approach:

  1. Evading Common Detection Measures: In a departure from conventional CryptoJacking schemes, the hackers abstained from using a public “mining pool.” Instead, they set up their own mining pool software, directing it to an “unlisted” endpoint. Such a move sidesteps the usual detection methods that rely on IP address-based threat intelligence.
  2. Masking the Origin: Adding another layer of camouflage, the culprits masked the actual IP address of their mining pool server, using CloudFlare CDN as a smokescreen. This maneuver complicates the IP address-based detection process, making the source harder to pinpoint.
  3. Non-Standard Port Usage: By employing a non-standard port for their mining operations, the attackers further muddied the waters. This deviation makes it challenging to spot malicious activities through typical port identification methods.
  4. Stealthy CPU Utilization: A telltale sign of CryptoJacking is usually a spike in CPU usage. However, in the Tesla incident, the hackers were astute. They seemingly calibrated the mining software to maintain low CPU usage, ensuring their clandestine activities flew under the radar.

The Implications

The Tesla incident is not an isolated case but a stern reminder. Companies and administrations, irrespective of their stature, are vulnerable to CryptoJacking. The multifaceted nature of these attacks, combined with their stealthy operation, underscores the pressing need for robust cybersecurity measures and constant vigilance.

CryptoJacking, with its ability to jeopardize even the titans of industry, has firmly cemented its position as a formidable cyber threat. Organizations must proactively adapt, fortifying their defenses to safeguard their assets and reputation.

How to avoid CryptoJacking?

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to safeguard against CryptoJacking:

1. Employ Anti-Crypto Mining Extensions:

One of the primary defense mechanisms you can employ is the installation of browser extensions specifically designed to thwart crypto mining scripts. Extensions like NoCoin have been developed to detect and block such scripts actively. Given that many CryptoJacking scripts find their way to users through compromised websites, having such an extension is akin to a sentinel, continuously guarding against unwanted mining scripts.

2. Stay Updated with Web Filtering Tools:

Web filtering tools play a pivotal role in screening out potentially harmful websites or scripts. It’s essential to keep these tools updated regularly. If you stumble upon a webpage that seems to deploy cryptojacking scripts, it’s crucial to blacklist it, ensuring that you and others in your network are shielded from future interactions with that site.

3. Secure Your Browser Extensions:

In the vast ecosystem of browser extensions, not all are benign. Malicious actors have been known to deploy rogue extensions that, once installed, run crypto mining scripts in the background. Always ensure that the extensions you install come from reputable sources, have positive reviews, and are updated regularly. Be wary of permissions they ask for and be judicious in what you grant.

4. Adopt Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions:

With the proliferation of smart devices, ensuring their security is crucial. Implementing a robust Mobile Device Management solution can help monitor, manage, and secure all your devices. These solutions can detect anomalies, restrict unauthorized access, and ensure that devices adhere to security protocols.

5. Prioritize System Updates:

Many cyber-attacks, including CryptoJacking, exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software. It’s imperative to keep your operating system and all applications up to date. Regular updates often come with patches for known security vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of being an easy target for attackers.

Note: If you suspect that you’ve been targeted by CryptoJackers, refer to this step-by-step guide on how to remove crypto mining malware and browser infections


How is CryptoJacking different from legitimate cryptocurrency mining?

While both involve the process of validating transactions and adding new blocks to a blockchain, CryptoJacking is done without the device owner’s consent, making it a malicious act. Legitimate mining uses the miner’s own resources or resources they have explicit permission to use.

How did Tesla become a victim of CryptoJacking?

According to research by the “Red Lock CSI” group, hackers exploited vulnerabilities in Tesla’s Kubernetes console, which lacked robust password protection. This breach gave attackers access to Tesla’s AWS environment, exposing sensitive telemetry data related to Tesla vehicles.

How can I prevent my device from being CryptoJacked?

Preventive measures include installing anti-crypto mining extensions like NoCoin, updating web filtering tools, securing browser extensions, using Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions, and keeping all software, especially operating systems, up-to-date.

What are the signs that my device might be CryptoJacked?

Common indicators include a noticeable slowdown in device performance, increased CPU or GPU usage without running heavy applications, and an unexpected increase in electricity consumption.

Are there tools to check if my system is being used for unauthorized crypto mining?

Yes, online tools like CryptoJacking Test can scan and detect if your system is being exploited for CryptoJacking.

What should I do if I suspect I’m a victim of CryptoJacking?

You should check your device’s performance, use online scanning tools, update and run antivirus software, inspect and secure browser extensions, clear browser cache and cookies, update all software, and consider using script blockers. If unsure, seek help from IT professionals.

How do CryptoJackers typically deliver their malicious scripts?

CryptoJackers often use phishing-style emails to trick users into clicking on malicious links, or they may compromise websites to automatically run the malicious scripts when visited.

Related posts:

  1. How to hack bitcoin wallet password
  2. 5 Essential Strategies for Protecting your Crypto from Hackers
  3. Bitcoin multiplier tool – Double your Bitcoins
  4. Bitcoin generator hack tool
  5. Tips to Protect Your Cryptocurrency from Hackers

Mensholong Lepcha

Financial journalist specializing in cryptocurrencies, bitcoin scams, crypto scams, crypto investing and crypto exchanges.