What Is Crypto Malware? A Complete Analysis

Cryptocurrency/ crypto malware is a type of malicious software that secretly employs your computer for cryptocurrency mining.

If you notice a decrease in your computer’s speed and responsiveness, it’s advisable to conduct a scan for malware designed for crypto mining.

Gain insights into cryptocurrency malware attacks and discover preventive measures to safeguard your devices from potential harm.

What is crypto malware?
Crypto malware targets digital wallets and exchanges, aiming to steal cryptocurrency by infecting and gaining access to users’ devices and accounts: Photo source (Forbes)

Cryptocurrency malware, specifically crafted for executing cryptojacking assaults, seizes control of a victim’s computer resources to mine cryptocurrency.

Despite not actively engaging in the theft of funds from the victim’s cryptocurrency wallet, crypto mining malware is a concern, as it utilizes the victim’s device for mining purposes.

Even if you don’t own or use cryptocurrency, the threat posed by such malware extends beyond direct financial implications.

Is crypto malware the same as cryptojacking and crypto ransomware?

Understanding crypto crimes like crypto malware, cryptojacking, and crypto ransomware can be challenging for many, especially those unfamiliar with cryptocurrency.

Let’s simplify these terms for clarity.

Crypto malware and cryptojacking

Cryptojacking involves taking control of someone’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. This is similar to the function of crypto malware, which is the malicious code facilitating such mining on others’ devices. In essence, cryptojacking and crypto malware are interconnected in their malicious activities.

Cryptocurrency malware and crypto ransomware

Crypto ransomware seizes control of a computer, encrypts its contents, and demands a ransom, often in cryptocurrency, for device access restoration.

Unlike crypto malware that remains hidden, ransomware declares itself, outlining the attackers’ demands.

Some attackers skip encryption, opting for direct notifications to induce panic and prompt payment.

In such attacks, options include paying the ransom, restoring the system from a backup, or seeking online decryption keys.

How does a cryptocurrency malware attack work?

Before delving into how crypto malware operates, let’s grasp its initial use.

Digital currency requires “mining,” involving verifying transactions on the blockchain.

Miners solve complex puzzles, adding transaction blocks and earning rewards.

While mining from personal devices is possible, it’s slow and power-intensive.

Cybercriminals exploit others’ devices for mining, using less sophisticated crypto malware that can run on browsers without the miner’s sophistication found in legitimate apps.

Are cryptocurrency malware attacks becoming more common?

Crypto malware attacks are unique, often aligning with cryptocurrency market trends.

When crypto values surge, these attacks increase.

While some crypto ransomware relies on anonymity rather than value, the ability to demand more Bitcoin compensates for market fluctuations.

The use of pseudo-anonymous wallets worldwide makes these attacks persistent and widespread.

Also read: How Do You Short Crypto?

Examples of crypto malware attacks

Crypto malware is primarily designed to mine cryptocurrencies on a target device, but it can be used for other malicious activity, too. Here are a few examples of crypto malware:

  • Prometei. Botnets such as Prometei are networks of infected computers that can be controlled remotely, often in DDoS attacks. Prometei mines Monero cryptocurrency but can be used to steal users’ credentials, too.
  • PowerGhost. PowerGhost uses Windows Management Instrumentation vulnerabilities to infiltrate a device and mine cryptocurrency. It can also disable antivirus software and even other cryptocurrency miners.
  • Graboid. It is a cryptojacking worm that spreads through the Docker Engine and mines Monero cryptocurrency.
  • CryptoLocker. CryptoLocker is one of the most dangerous examples of crypto ransomware, a malicious program that encrypts everything on your device and demands you pay a ransom to have your data back.
  • Coinhive. Coinhive was one of the best-known cryptojackers using JavaScript. Originally, websites used mining cryptocurrency via Coinhive as an alternative to showing ads, but many chose to implement it without users’ consent.
  • WannaCry ransomware. It was a notorious crypto ransomware attack that affected systems all around the world.
  • MassMiner. MassMiner is crypto malware built to mine Monero cryptocurrency by using popular exploits, such as EternalBlue.
  • Rakhni trojan. Hackers used this malware to check the victim’s system and then decide how to proceed with the attack. For example, weaker systems would be locked with ransomware, while more powerful ones were infected to mine cryptocurrency.

How to detect and protect yourself from crypto malware

Shielding your computer against crypto malware follows similar principles to safeguarding it from other malware types.

Employing common sense, like relying on trusted sources for software updates and media downloads, is often sufficient to prevent crypto malware attacks.

How To Detect And Protect Yourself From Crypto Malware

1. Keep all devices and applications up to date

Crypto malware exploits unpatched system vulnerabilities, like the long-exploited Windows EternalBlue flaw.

Rapid software and operating system updates, as developers address security issues promptly, make it difficult for malware to infiltrate your device.

Simplify the process by enabling automatic updates or promptly updating when notified.

2. Monitor and protect your network

Your devices establish connections to various networks, be it within your household, workplace, or public environments.

Each network varies in its level of security, with none providing absolute protection.

Your safeguard relies on factors such as your device, the security measures of the network, and even the email client you use.

Though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, employing antivirus software and VPN services can significantly enhance your protection in most scenarios.

Take NordVPN, for instance; it ensures the security of your connection across any network and incorporates a Threat Protection feature to shield your device from inadvertent malware downloads.

3. Back up your devices regularly

Backups may seem bothersome, but a single cyberattack can validate their importance.

They’re not just for crypto ransomware—natural disasters or other unforeseen events could wipe out your system, and having a backup is your lifeline.

It’s easy to back up your system and files—use the cloud for file backups or enable the automatic backup option in your operating system.

4. Use strong passwords and password managers

Managing numerous digital accounts means having multiple passwords for music, movies, work, and social media.

Creating strong, unique passwords for each account is crucial, but the risk of forgetting them increases.

Password managers like NordPass simplify personal security by requiring you to remember only one password.

They can store various information and generate unique passwords, filling in credentials automatically and reminding you to update passwords regularly.

5. Learn about cybersecurity

Avoiding cryptocurrency malware doesn’t require becoming a cybersecurity expert.

Most online scams are apparent with awareness.

Learn to distinguish between a friend sharing a file and a compromised account sending scam messages.

Understanding email phishing helps enhance safety.

Beware of malware from illegal downloads and fake updates; use only official sources for software downloads.

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