A cryptocurrency is a digital asset stored on computerised databases. These digital coins are recorded in digital ledgers using strong cryptography to keep them secure.
The ledgers are distributed globally, and each transaction made using cryptocurrencies are codified as blocks. And multiple blocks linking each other forms a blockchain on the distributed ledger.
There are estimated to be more than 47 million cryptocurrency users around the world.
These cryptocurrencies are created through a process called mining. To mine digital coins, miners need to use high-end processors that will consume a lot of electricity.
These minted digital assets are decentralised, unlike physical cash that is regulated by each country’s central bank. The ownership of these digital assets is cryptographically coded, and the blockchain system enables transfer of ownership.
But, to ensure it is used only by one entity, the distributed ledger accepts transaction performed by the first user, rejecting all other blocks. This way, the same cryptocurrency can’t be used by two different entities, making a fool-proof financial system.
However, there are other ways in which a security breach can happen in this world of cryptocurrency. Crypto-jacking is what some digital coin miners do to illegally gain access to many computers. The miners stealthily drop malware in an unsuspecting user’s pc.
Once installed, the crypto mining code runs surreptitiously and turns devices into cryptocurrency-mining botnets. The mined digital assets are then stored in digital ledgers with unique codes.
Unlike most other types of malware, crypto-jacking scripts do not use the victim’s data. But they drain the CPU’s resources, which slows down the system, increases electricity usage, and causes irreparable damage to the hardware.
Hackers tend to prefer anonymous cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash, over the more popular Bitcoin as it is harder to track illegal activity back to them on these platforms.
The practice of crypto-jacking is currently on the rise as the price of the asset is falling, according to Palo Alto Networks. So, to reduce costs associated with mining, hackers resort to crypto-jacking.