Cybersecurity, Managed Security Services

Cryptojacking Is on the Rise Again and Could Point to More Serious Attacks

October 2021
Sagenet Blog Cryptojacking

Although cryptocurrency markets remain highly volatile, digital currencies are currently experiencing rising values and growing popularity. A panel of cryptocurrency experts recently predicted that Bitcoin would overtake the U.S. dollar as the dominant form of global finance by the year 2050.

Naturally, hackers see an opportunity to exploit the current market boom. After a two-year lull, cryptojacking attacks are on the rise again, according to a report by Kaspersky. The security firm reports that these attacks have more than doubled since January.

Cryptojacking is one of the more insidious ways cybercriminals take advantage of corporate IT infrastructure. In a cryptojacking attack, cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to a server or other device to mine cryptocurrency. Crypto miners earn a few bitcoins by winning the opportunity to record and check the validity of cryptocurrency transactions.

However, cryptomining requires significant computing power to run complex algorithms. Those IT resources are scarce, and the cost and power to keep them running can eat up any profit. It’s far more cost-efficient for cybercriminals to hijack someone else’s resources.

Why Cryptojacking Is Serious Business

Cryptojacking attacks are typically launched through phishing emails that trick users into clicking malicious links or opening files that automatically load cryptomining code. Cybercriminals might also exploit vulnerabilities in server software or use brute-force attacks to compromise credentials.

Because the cryptomining activity occurs in the background, there’s generally no indication that it’s happening other than a slight performance degradation. However, cryptojacking drains systems resources, increases energy consumption and can shorten the life of IT equipment. It also consumes precious network bandwidth.

Of greater concern is the fact that cryptojacking is often a symptom of a more serious problem. After cybercriminals have gained access to a compromised system, they may use cryptojacking to monetize that resource while preparing for more serious attacks. These include exfiltrating valuable data, selling server access for further abuse or preparing for a targeted ransomware attack. Any systems found to contain cryptomining software should be flagged for immediate remediation and investigation.

How to Avoid a Cryptojacking Attack

Cryptojacking attacks don’t require much in the way of technical skills, and they can be quite profitable. The monetization of the attack is built in — as long as the cryptomining software keeps running, profits keep rolling in. In order to make money on ransomware, by contrast, cybercriminals must induce the victim to pay.

What’s more, cryptojacking can be difficult to detect and even harder to trace to its origin. That makes it a low-risk attack method.

The first step toward preventing a cryptojacking attack is to educate users about the risk and how to avoid becoming a victim. Organizations should also implement an active endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution that can detect cryptomining scripts, and install anti-crypto mining extensions on browsers. It’s important to maintain browser extensions and update web filtering tools regularly to account for new threats.

SageNet specializes in the design, implementation and support of multilayered security solutions for complex IT environments platforms. We help customers update their endpoint protection with SentinelOne ActiveEDR with a 24×7 monitoring and management option to extend the customer’s security team. Let us help you develop a strategy for detecting and mitigating cryptojacking attacks that could signal an even more serious problem.

How SageNet Can Help

SageNet’s cybersecurity professionals can help you focus your security efforts on the most significant threats to your business. We offer consulting services that leverage expert assessments and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and help both business executives and IT make better decisions about security and regulatory compliance.

We can help you take advantage of leading security tools to protect your environment, and provide ongoing monitoring and incident response to identify active threats. Give us a call today for a more secure 2021.

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