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Cryptojacking in the Banking Industry: Detection and Prevention

Ashish M. Shaji

| Updated: Jun 26, 2020 | Category: Digital Banking

Cryptojacking

In this era of digitalization, where even the smallest of works is carried out digitally, cybercrime has tremendously increased. Instances of cyber-attacks are now commonly heard where a large amount of loss is inflicted. This article deals with one of those cyberattacks i.e., Cryptojacking.

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is the malicious use of a person’s computing power to mine cryptocurrencies without their consent. In simple words, it is a form of cyberattack where a hijacker hijacks the processing power of its target to mine cryptocurrency.

It has become one of the most common forms of malware. It is slightly different from typical malware, where it is not after your data but after your processing power. The processing power is used to mine cryptocurrency.

How does Cryptojacking work?

With the rise of cryptocurrencies and their acceptance as a legitimate way to trade online and buy goods, it was inevitable that this form of online money was exploited. Cryptojackers employ a number of ways of enslaving a device. One way of executing that is through distribution using traditional malware methods like a link or an attachment in an email. When the receiver opens or clicks on the link, the crypto mining code would be directly loaded to the computer, phone, etc. once the crypto miner receives the confirmation that the code is good to move forward, then they use these network resources to mine around the clock. 

Another method is called web browser miner. Here the hackers inject a crypto mining script on a website or in an ad that is put on multiple websites. When the victim visits such websites or if the malicious ads pop up in the victim’s browser, the script executes automatically. Here no code is stored in the victim’s computer. 

Impact of Cryptojacking in the financial sector

In order to remain competitive in the ever-evolving market and to meet the customer needs more efficiently, the financial sector has adopted digitalization. However, this transformation has caused cybercriminals to be more active, where they look to exploit new and overlooked network vulnerabilities.

Crypto-jacking within the financial sector can take many forms, whether it is maliciously injecting into the browsers of the computers or distributing malware across servers and IoT (Internet of Things) devices or hijacking Wifi. Such injections of exploits are introduced to leach CPU resources to generate cryptocurrency for the financial benefit of cybercriminals. 

The exploit capability of this malware has increased. Cybercriminals have the potential to cryptojack cloud-based enterprise-level applications. This implies that the financial sector firms leveraging this application management system within their websites and applications could host this malware that can affect a number of consumer devices.

To properly address this threat the financial sector requires deploying integrated, and an automated cybersecurity systems that can monitor networks while being able to mitigate damage.

How to Detect Cryptojacking?

Detecting this form of malware may be difficult. Here are some of the methods which can be used to detect it-

How to Detect Cryptojacking
  • Decrease in Performance

One of its biggest symptoms is a decrease in the performance of your computing device. It includes mobile phones, laptops, and other such devices.  Slower systems can be a sign of crypto mining. Therefore any such instances must be reported.

  • Overheating

The resource-intensive process of this malware may cause the device to overheat. One must look for overheating of devices and running fans for cooling.

  • Check CPU usage

Analyze your usage of CPU. It may be achieved by the activity monitor or task manager. If you find an increase in CPU usage when users are on a website with either no or little media content, it may be possible that crypto mining scripts are running.

  • Monitor Websites

Regularly monitor websites to detect changes to webpages or any files as Cybercriminals are in search of a website where they can embed crypto-mining code.

  • Stay abreast of crypto-jacking trends

Cybercriminals are constantly modifying code and using new delivery methods to embed updated scripts into a computer device. Being aware of the latest trends and being proactive can help you detect this malware on your network or devices.

How to prevent Cryptojacking?

Following these steps can help you prevent crypto-jacking-

How to prevent Cryptojacking
  • Training the IT team

Your IT team must be trained to nullify any form of malware. They must be aware of the signs and symptoms of this malware and take immediate action if detected.

  • Educate employees

Employees of an organization should be made aware of the threat, impact, and prevention techniques of the malware. They must be educated on not clicking on any suspicious links in the emails and download material only from trusted links.

  • Use of  Anti-Cryptomining Extensions

Quite often, Crypto-jacking scripts are deployed in web browsers; therefore, use browser extensions to block crypto miners.

  • Use Ad blockers

Usage of ad blockers is highly advised to block malicious code in online ads. It can help in detecting and blocking malicious crypto-mining code.

  • Disable Java Script

While you are browsing online, disabling the javascript can prevent this malware from infecting your computer. However, it may be noted that disabling javascript may block a few functions that you require while browsing.

Conclusion

As we are in this era of digitalization, one can expect numerous cybercriminals to have a free run looking to exploit even a slight opening of an opportunity. Therefore one must stay cautious and be aware of the necessary information required to thwart any attempts of cyber attacks like Cryptojacking. Just like in case of a disease, early detection can help you avoid huge losses due to such cyber attacks.

Also, read: Data Protection in the Banking Industry

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Ashish M. Shaji

Ashish M. Shaji has done his graduation in law (BA. LLB) from CCS University. He has keen interests in doing extensive research and writing on legal subjects especially on criminal and corporate law. He is a creative thinker and has a great interest in exploring legal subjects.

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