Cryptocurrency – Illicit Mining

Cryptocurrency has been a popular word which stormed the internet after a jump in values of different cryptocurrencies. A sudden jump in worth invited many people to consider investing in cryptocurrencies. Let’s build on basics before jumping to the darker side of cryptocurrency mining activities. The below snapshot shows the trend of cryptocurrency keyword over Google search engine.

Capture_Crypto
Google Trends

The below snapshot shows top 5 cryptocurrencies as per the market capitalization.

  • Market Capitalization refers to the total market value of a company being traded on a stock market.
Capture_Value
Top 5 Cryptocurrencies as per Market Capitalization

As per Wikipedia, cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchanges which uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets. Essentially, cryptocurrencies are limited entries in a database that no one can change unless specific conditions are fulfilled. The blockchain is used to maintain a decentralized public ledger which contains all transactions happened ever in the network.

  • The blockchain is just a chain of blocks which are linked with cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, timestamp and transaction data.
    • Cryptography is associated with encryption. It involves converting plain text to cipher text using an encryption algorithm so that information can be processed only by those parties who need to, by sharing decrypting key.
    • Hash is a one-way cryptographic function which produces a fixed length message digest irrespective of input length. It helps in verifying the integrity of a message. If there is a change of a character in the message, hash value changes. In below screenshots, you can see there was just change of a character “i”nfosecvidya.com and drastic change in hash values(MD5/SHA256)Capture_Hash_1Capture_Hash_2

Every transaction file has a wallet address(public key) of sender & receiver and transaction amount. This transaction should be signed off using a private key which is secret to the person. The whole process has to be confirmed before it is broadcasted in the network as a public ledger. The confirmation is taken care of by miners who have to solve a cryptographic puzzle. For confirming the transaction and marking them as legitimate, they receive a reward and transaction fees.

I think by now, you would have understood the basics of cryptocurrency. If we want to summarize, we can say it is a type of digital money which uses cryptography for financial integrity i.e. the whole process revolves around cryptography to provide integrity. Now let’s understand mining activity to dig deeper.

Mining, crypto mining simply process through which cryptocurrency is earned. As discussed earlier, miners validate a transaction by solving a complex puzzle and as a result of mining activity, they are paid a reward in cryptocurrency. To solve these cryptography based puzzles, miners need high processing power and here they come with an easy way to generate that processing power. As usual, we are targetted through crypto mining software. They target vulnerabilities in Websites, software or Operating System to install such software. They also try to exploit us using phishing email and then installing the software. Cryptominers use the processing power of a victim’s machine to solve the puzzles and earning them the reward. This whole scenario of installing crypto mining software and exploiting the vulnerabilities is called as cryptojacking Cryptojacking malware is distributed through weaponized mobile applications, botnets, and social media platforms by exploiting flaws in applications and servers, and by hijacking Wi-Fi hotspots. The McAfee study shows the surge malware.

Capture_Malware

Cryptomining malware hurts system by forcing the system to generate a lot of processing power. If your system is affected, you can see degraded CPU and Bandwidth performance with high power usage. You may have a doubt how can we safeguard us from these attacks. The below should be implemented at least to keep our system disinfected.

  1. Keep Antivirus signature updated and perform the scan regularly.
  2. Disable unnecessary services and features.
  3. Keep the system updated by installing patches.
  4. Always monitor system performance and investigate if you feel statistics are abnormal.
  5. Please be aware, everything which comes free is not actually free. Most malware is embedded in free software or free streaming websites.

Hope this article, would have cleared some doubts over cryptocurrency and it’s darker side where we are at receiving end. Please put forward your thoughts or feedback in the comment box.

Plagiarism Score: 5% Calculated from SmallSEOTools

 

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