Hackers are always finding new and innovative ways to exploit you while still avoiding the law.
After all, stealing your identity or personal details is risky – a crime reserved for the bold and experienced criminal.
Infecting your machine with ransomware is effective, but the gains aren’t guaranteed – the victim can always restore from backup (assuming the backup isn’t also infected).
But now, cybercriminals have a new trick up their sleeve.
Instead of stealing your sensitive data, they’re going to steal your computer power and internet bandwidth instead.
By hijacking your and others’ computers, a hacker can harness enough CPU power to mine hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies without anyone realising it.
It’s called cryptojacking – and it’s proving one of the most pervasive cyberthreats of 2018.
If you don’t notice, does it matter?
Cybercrime involves theft, money laundering, counterfeit goods, terrorism, and other illegal activities. Given the relative anonymity offered by the internet, organised crime is digitising its activities to maximise profits or for funding other nefarious deeds.
So yes, in the grand scheme of things, it does matter, assuming you want to live in a world with as little crime as possible.
On a personal level, if your browser is hijacked to mine cryptocurrency, your computer will use more CPU power than normal. This additional load creates heat, and over time might degrade the components inside your machine, meaning you have to replace it sooner than expected.
And if you have noticed your computer running much slower than usual, but have so far chosen to ignore it, your browser could very well be mining cryptocurrency for some shady organisation.
How does this mining work, exactly?
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are similar to digital money, and can be traded for other cryptocurrencies or converted into fiat currencies like USD, GBP, or EUR.
Mining refers to a special process for creating certain cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. Mining uses a lot of electricity, CPU power, and bandwidth, so most of it is done in “pools”, where several linked computers (or hundreds) work on mining cryptocurrency at the same time.
All that power goes into solving cryptographic puzzles. Solve a puzzle before other miners, and you receive a reward – usually more cryptocurrency. But few people can afford the hardware necessary to make mining a profitable enterprise, so criminals hijack web browsers and computers instead.
By combining your processing power with those of other victims, criminals can make serious money without ever stealing a digit of your data. Worse, using certain tricks like pop-unders, they can continue mining after you’ve closed your browser window.
Is there a way to stop cybercriminals hijacking my browser?
Yes, there is. And not only will it stop cryptojacking through your browser, but it’ll prevent ads, spyware, malware, and other internet threats.
The answer is Brave.
Brave also blocks everyday ads and trackers, and gives users an interesting way to continue to support the publishers who have lost revenue from blocked ads: a blockchain-based Brave Rewards solution.
Cryptojacking is essentially a malware threat, and nowadays your machine doesn’t have to be infected by cryptojacking software for it to work. Instead, all you have to do is browse a website hacked by a cryptojacker and it’ll run a mining script in the background while you browse.
How to block or disable all cryptocurrency mining scripts through Brave
Brave blocks all malware by default, and you can disable all scripts – including those written by cryptojackers – from the settings menu. If you’ve not started using Brave yet, download and install it now. Then follow the instructions below.
OSX and Windows
Open Brave > three horizontal lines in upper right > Settings > Brave shields defaults > Script blocking > toggle on
Cryptojacking is a serious threat. It slows your machine, degrades the components, and worse, puts money in the hands of the people who cause the most harm. So download, install, and start using Brave now, otherwise the next site you visit might be swiping value from right under your nose.