Malicious Cryptominers

Malicious cryptominers belong to the category of malicious code designed to hijack idle processing power of a victim’s device and use it to mine cryptocurrency. Victims are not asked to consent to such activity and even may be unaware that it is happening in the background.

Malicious Cryptominers

Malicious cryptominers belong to the category of malicious code designed to hijack idle processing power of a victim’s device and use it to mine cryptocurrency. Victims are not asked to consent to such activity and even may be unaware that it is happening in the background.

Reading time icon

3 min read

Reading time icon

3 min read

What is malicious cryptocurrency mining?

Formerly, most malicious crypto mining code tried to download and run an executable on the targeted device(s). However, a different form of crypto mining malware has recently become very popular – in-browser mining that uses simple JavaScript. This method - also dubbed cryptojacking - enables the same malicious activity to be executed directly in a victim’s browser, without installing any software.

Read more

Nowadays, most crypto mining scripts and executables mine Monero. This cryptocurrency has many advantages over the better-known bitcoin: it offers anonymous transactions and can be mined with regular CPUs and GPUs instead of expensive, specialized hardware.

Crypto mining and cryptojacking cyberattacks have been detected on all popular desktop platforms, as well as on Android devices. Most of them are classified as potentially unwanted applications (PUA); however, some of the detected attacks fall into the more dangerous Trojan category.

Malicious cryptominers image

How to recognise a cryptocurrency mining attack

Cryptocurrency mining and cryptojacking are associated with extremely high processor activity that has noticeable side-effects such as a reduced performance of their device, overheating, increased fan activity which increases noise from the fan.

On Android devices, the computational load can even lead to “bloating” of the battery and in some cases physical damage to, or destruction of, the device.

Similar problems may be caused by a variety of issues in hardware or software however, in the case of cryptojacking, they become apparent after the victim accesses a specific website - probably one that incorporates the crypto mining JavaScript code.

How can you protect yourself from a malicious crypto mining attack?

Use a reliable security solution to block unwanted crypto mining and cryptojacking activity. If you notice that accessing a specific website dramatically increases the use of your CPU, close the browser.

In some cases, a reboot may be necessary in order to close the hidden browser windows, which continue with the mining in the background. After the restart, don’t allow your browser to autoload the previous session, as this might re-open the cryptojacking tab.

History of malicious cryptominers image

A brief history

Malicious cryptocurrency mining became prevalent in 2017, mostly due to the increase in value of various cryptocurrencies. Older variants of such malicious code were typically intended to infiltrate the victim’s device and install the mining software. In September 2017, a new cryptocurrency mining service was made available, named Coinhive. Unlike with other crypto mining services, Coinhive’s customers only needed to place a few lines of JavaScript into their web pages so as to enlist their visitors’ CPU power to mine cryptocurrency directly in-browser.

Read more

This revenue model has become very popular among cybercriminals, who started “infecting” websites around the world with Coinhive’s code, misusing these sites for their financial gain without the consent of their owners or visitors. Cybercrooks have also started creating copycat cryptomining services of their own, offering similar code, but with outright malicious intentions.

ESET protects you against malicious cryptocurrency mining

ESET Smart Security Premium

Ultimate guardian of your online safety

ESET Smart Security Premium

Ultimate guardian of your online safety

ESET Smart Security Premium

Built without compromise for users who want it all.
Secures Windows, Mac, Android and Linux devices.