Sunday, 1 April 2018

Cryptojacking

You may not have heard the term Cryptojacking but it is one of the newest threats to your computer security. The good news is that it is not malicious in the sense that it won't destroy your data. The bad news is that it will most likely slow your computer down and decrease responsiveness of your system.

Cryptojacking is the use of your computer's processor (CPU) to mine crypto currencies (see my  article on crypto currencies for more info). The reason this has become such a big problem is because it is reasonably trivial for cryptojacking to occur. All it takes is for a website to load a piece of javascript through your web browser, and it will start the mining process. You will probably not even notice this initially. You can check if your CPU is spiking by opening the task manager in Windows (press ctl+shift+esc) and then click on the performance tab. If the CPU graph is showing a lot of activity then it is possibly a cryptojacking script. You can easily test web browser by going to https://cryptojackingtest.com. The site will attempt to load a cryptomining script on your web browser and will determine if your browser is vulnerable to these scripts. If your web browser is vulnerable, you can load an adblocker extension (such as ghostery ghostery.com or privacy badger eff.org/privacybadger). Test again once this is loaded to be sure it is effective. The Opera browser has built in protection for cryptojacking, so is another option.

It is not all bad news though, cryptojacking may become a useful alternative to web advertising. Instead of a site displaying ads, it may request CPU access while you are visiting the site. If this can be done in a way that obtains the reader's consent then this could be an ethical alternative to web advertising. At the moment, we are in the early stages of using this technology so it would be wise to protect your web browser from these scripts.

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