Government report shows increased risk of cryptojacking

A UK government agency warned last week that cryptojacking, the practice of literally hijacking someone’s computer and then use it for mining cryptocurrencies, will most likely become ‘a regular source of income for website owners.’

In a new report entitled ‘Cyber threat to UK businesses’ the nation’s National Cyber Security Centre (the tech division of the Government Communications Headquarters) stresses that cryptojacking was becoming a very real concern.

The report specifically highlights websites that mine cryptocurrencies without obtaining the consent of users and noted that 55% of global businesses suffered from cryptomining attacks as recently as December 2017. The researchers specifically single out monero, which has often been mined via a browser application called Coinhive.

The attacks are continuing unabated this year. The report reveals that well over 4 000 websites clandestinely mined cryptocurrencies by using a browser plug-in for users with impaired eyesight. It also notes that ‘the only way users may notice their devices are being cryptojacked is a slight slowdown in performance.’

The agency warns that it’s not only cyber criminals who resort to cryptojacking. Website owners also often secretly use the processing power of their visitors’ CPUs to mine cryptocurrencies.

The report also points out that there are websites that do get their users’ permission to mine cryptocurrencies, e.g. Salon. In February 2018 the publication announced that it would give its readers a choice between cryptocurrency mining and advertisements before they can access its content.

The best way to prevent cryptojacking on any computer is by using decent anti-virus software and an ad-blocker. Businesses can mitigate their risk by employing a trustworthy IT consultancy.