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We have encountered a lot of news about cyber attacks that have caused costly disruptions and a lot of inconvenience until the issues were resolved. Hackers have created plenty of problems and raised concern not only for individuals, but also for corporations. Cyber attacks and threats have always been around since the first computers were released. We have since accepted that these threats are constant and rely on our government to protect the Internet and computer networks from hackers.

Now, there is a new threat and it is one that affects cryptocurrency. It was only a matter of time before hackers decide to capitalize on crypto mining through cryptojacking.  

To understand what cryptojacking is, let’s take a look at crypto mining. Crypto mining is very profitable, but also costly and time consuming. One must have a specialized computer to be able to mine. A “miner” is a person who verifies a cryptocurrency transaction by solving mathematical puzzles and then stores it on a block of data on blockchain. Miners can earn cryptocurrency by performing these tasks. They can then invest their cryptocurrency or use it to make purchases. It’s also the only way to create cryptocurrency and release it to the public. 

Cryptojacking occurs when hackers gain unauthorized access to a person’s computer to mine cryptocurrency via a code. Hackers have found two ways to do this without detection – no damage is done to the victim’s computer and nothing will be stolen from it. Since the code is hidden on the victim’s computer (or device), it is hard to trace it back to the hacker. ​Some possible signs​ that you are a victim of cryptojacking are slower computer processing, increased energy bills and a shorter life of your device.  

Hackers can gain access by tricking a victim to click on a link in an email, which is similar to how a virus can be unleashed on a computer. The malicious link has a crypto mining code which is loaded onto the computer. It can also be loaded onto a computer through an ad with a Javascript code. Once the computer has been infected, it will continuously mine cryptocurrency. There are ways to ​protect your computer​ from cryptojacking, such as installing a strong internet security suite and ad-blocking or anti-crypto mining extensions on web browsers. Also, be wary of phishing and unknown emails.  

Unfortunately, cryptojacking is here to stay. Miners and those who use cryptocurrency must be vigilant in protecting their computers from being cryptojacked. With this new threat, it begs the question: Will we be as accepting of cryptojacking as we are with cyber attacks?