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Author: Ian Musyoka
Monday, July 19, 2021

Computer Repair: How to Detect Crypto Mining Malware

Category: Security

The vast growth of the cryptocurrency market has been something to marvel at over the past few years. However, the concept of anonymous payouts has given cybercriminals a reason to be part of the game. They have developed crypto-mining malware that can infect business and home computers. Using these cryptojacking attacks, they have the power to access a streamlined, reliable, and constant stream of income.

On average, cryptojacking victims report abnormally high CPU usage, slow running computer, hot computer fan, server overload, and a shortened battery life. These crypto-mining malware are hard to detect in a system designed to run in the background. Due to this, cryptojacking attacks are often undetected, giving room for power siphoning, system damage, and excessive power consumption. 

Cryptojacking is the process where a hacker hacks either a laptop, mobile device, business, or personal computer to install malicious software. This software, referred to as crypto mining software uses up the computer's resources and power supply to mine cryptocurrency or steal the Crypto wallets of unsuspecting owners with the help of only a few lines of code.

Computer Repair: How to Detect Crypto Mining Malware

Crypto miners use two primary ways to secretly mine cryptocurrency from a victim’s computer. The first method is through using phishing-like tactics to load mining code onto the victim's computer. This can be in the form of a legitimate-looking email link, encouraging you to click on it. When you click this link, a code that implants a Crypto mining script in your device is activated. This script starts running in the background as you continue to work.

Method two involves injecting a cryptojacking script on a website or using an ad that markets many websites. The script automatically executes itself by visiting the infected website, or the infected ad pops up in your browser. These scripts do not store code on the victim’s computer. Once the code is fully installed, it sends complex mathematical problems to a hacker-controlled server, regardless of the installation method. To reap maximum returns, hackers utilize both methods.


Image: Browser-Based Cryptojacking

The cryptojacker’s biggest financial gain is achieved by using Crypto-mining malware to maintain network persistence due to difficulty locating and removing it. This is why some Crypto mining scripts are built with a worming capability to facilitate the infection of other servers and devices on the network. Furthermore, some of these scripts have multiple versions to represent different network architectures. This means that the implant of each architecture will be downloaded until one works. This makes it easier for the cryptojacking malware to spread across the network.

Cryptomining malware can also be designed to check if a competing script has infected a target system. If detected, the malware will disable it. To counter that, some Crypto miners design their scripts with a kill prevention mechanism that runs after a given timeframe. 

Compared to other malware scripts, cryptojacking has no interest in damaging victim data or computers. Their main steal is a CPU's processing resources. Individuals who use an infected computer might be annoyed by the performance. As for organizations, undergoing many cryptojacking attacks can be difficult. So much time and resources might be wasted in contacting the help desk and using the I.T. department to help account for performance issues. 

How to Detect Crypto Mining Malware in Your Computer

Unattended, cryptojacking can pose a danger to your entire business management. First, it isn't easy to detect the compromised system. Second, the codes used to build Crypto mining scripts are difficult to detect as well. This gives every tech team a reason to be extra vigilant. Crypto mining malware may seem relatively harmless because it only steals the victim’s computer power, but this is done without the consent or knowledge of the victim to create currency illicitly. Below are tips on how to tell if you are being cryprojacked:

1. Slow running computer

If you notice a decrease in your computer’s performance, it could be because the crypto jacked uses its energy in the background. This might also happen when a computer user is exposed to an infected ad or website. This can affect devices such as laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and tablets. If your organization experiences a great number of performance complaints, Crypto mining malware should be on the list of suspected culprits.

2. Server Overload

Servers are a lucrative target to Cryptojackers because server activity is often unnoticed. In addition, large companies use high-powered servers that are the perfect fit for large-scale mining exploits. Like CPU usage, it is good to monitor server activities to pick up on any abnormal activity.

3. Abnormally High CPU Usage

When your computer is not operational, but your CPU usage indicates. Otherwise, it could be a sign of cryptojacking malware running in the background. Whenever you encounter performance issues, create a regular habit of checking your Activity Monitor (Mac users) or Task Manager (PC users) for irregular spikes or abnormalities in CPU usage. 

4. Hot Computer Fan

The hardware components of your computer are aware of your CPU’s usage even when you are not. You can tell that a computer system is being overworked if the fan starts running more often or gets hotter than usual. This is a common physical cryptojacking sign that every tech department needs to know. Unchecked, you might have to replace hardware and other computer components as a result of cryptojacking effects. 

5. Shorter Battery Life

Many companies have embraced portable devices and integrated them into their operational infrastructure. Laptop batteries are known to run hot when overworking the processor, just like a computer fan. Cryptojackers draw out a large amount of the power supply; this means that an overheating laptop battery can be a sign of doom. Every business is recommended to watch over every connected device, including cell phones and tablets.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking in Your Environment

Many firms have picked up an interest in finding ways of detecting Crypto mining, which can be very difficult to do. Here are a few examples of cryptojacking counters that work effectively:

1. Educate Yourself About New Cryptojacking Trends

Computers users should practice proactivity and always stay updated with the latest cybersecurity threats to better detect cryptojacking in their devices and network and prevent other security threats. This is because cybercriminals are always revamping failed scripts to build more complex cyber jacking attacks.

2. Make Use of a Good Security Program

With the help of a comprehensive cybersecurity program such as Intruder, Norton Security, Vipre, or Kaspersky Total Security, you will be able to detect multiple threats and be defended from cryptojacking malware. Installing security beforehand is always a good idea, just like when dealing with other malware issues. Moreover, constant updates to have the latest patches installed will be useful in curbing new attacks, including web-related ones.


Image: Virus detection

3. Some Browser Extensions Block Cryptojacking

Often, cryptojacking scripts are executed in web browsers. Using the help of specialized extensions, you can easily block Cryptojackers on the internet using popular web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. Examples of these extensions include No coin, minerBlock, and Anti Miner.

4. Disable JavaScript

When using the internet, disabling your JavaScript can help your device stay protected against cryptojacking code trying to infect your computer. Although this method works well, it may, unfortunately, block you from accessing other useful functions that you need.

5. Employ Ad Blockers

Given that online ads are the chosen method of delivering cryptojacking scripts, having an active ad blocker installed can come in handy in preventing them. Effective ad blockers can help detect and mitigate cryptojacking codes—for example, AdBlocker Plus and McAfee.

6. Block Cryptojacking-Prone Websites

Given that users are prone to cryptojacking when visiting different websites, ensure every site you visit appears in a safelist that you have carefully vetted. Make sure to blocklist any site that is known to be a source of cryptojacking attacks. Nevertheless, this will not prevent your device from being attacked when exposed to undiscovered cryptojacking pages.


Cryptojacking is the action of malicious Crypto mining when cybercriminals install mining software on a personal or business computer. Two primary methods are used to secretly mine cryptocurrency: phishing-like tactics and injecting a code into a website. A slow-running computer, a server overload, hot computer fan, overactive CPU, and short battery life are signs you can use to detect crypto-mining malware in your device. You can prevent cryptojacking by educating yourself on the latest cryptojacking trends, using browser extensions and ad blockers that prevent it, employing a good security program, and disabling JavaScript.

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Ian Musyoka
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Joined: 12/11/2019

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