Hidden mining is gaining momentum. Cryptohacking has become one of the most common types of fraud. Moreover, it is unnecessary to know about crypto to get caught in the trap of hackers. Underground mining recognizes no boundaries, distances, or monetary status. Although it is one of the most harmless types of fraud, it negatively affects the performance of a PC.
This is Alex, the chief cryptocurrency researcher at Artex Global. If you have never heard of hidden mining but suspect something wrong with your computer, this article will either help you confirm your suspicions or completely dispel them. But even if everything is fine with your computer, it is essential to know about hidden mining because it relates to cybersecurity.
What is Hidden Mining
Hidden mining is the illegal use of computing equipment produced without the owner’s knowledge, which an intruder uses to mine cryptocurrencies. The emergence of many cryptocurrencies that can be mined by means of mining inevitably attracted the attention of fraudsters. Almost immediately with the emergence of legal mining, produced by the owner of the computing equipment, some wanted to use other people’s computers to mine cryptocurrencies.
To avoid undue attention, attackers began to use various ways to use other people’s computers’ computing resources unnoticed by others, running mining software in the background. Despite law enforcement efforts, hidden mining remained very common in 2020.
How Hackers Hide Mining
The principle behind hidden mining is the discreet installation of special software on the victim’s hardware, which then runs in the background and mines it.
- The easiest way to hide a mining program is to run it in the background as a service process. Most users will not see that a masked program has started running on their computer and may only realize by indirect signs that something is wrong with the computer because it is slowing down.
- An advanced hidden mining program knows how to automatically suspend its operation when it tries to detect it, for example, when the task manager in the Windows operating system is started.
- Serious programs can adapt their computational load so that their impact on the overall performance of the computer is not so noticeable, impersonate legitimate programs from the user’s point of view, embed themselves infrequently used programs, and use a lot of other ways not to raise suspicions about their existence.
Hacking Ways to Infect a Mining Virus
Covert mining software can be installed by an unscrupulous person who has physical access to the hardware. Also, other methods similar to those used to spread computer viruses can be used. The most common ways of hacking into a computer to install hidden miners are as follows.
As a rule, Internet resources, offering free downloads of pirated software, pornographic resources, and other illegal and semi-legal sites in parallel spread crypto viruses, designed either for identity theft or for hidden mining and other purposes. In this case, remember the old saying that free cheese is only in a mousetrap.
You should not use pirate programs because the harm from using them can be much more significant than the money saved on their purchase. Also, there are many open-source programs available today that have the same features as the paid programs and sometimes even better ones, thanks to the efforts of a community of people who support the principle of open-source software.
The easiest way to infiltrate a mining virus or special programs into the installation files of commonly used programs is to use the owner to sneak into someone else’s computer or do it unnoticed by others guise of installing a harmless program.
To protect yourself from this type of intrusion, you should carefully check the source from which the installation files were taken, especially if it is on the Internet, and be sure to check them before running a good antivirus.
Some computers on the Internet are infected with viruses that execute algorithms designed to spread viruses. Software codes exploiting computer vulnerabilities (so-called exploits) may be used, both by users connected to servers and by other computers connected to the network but with open ports exposed to vulnerabilities.
All software and operating systems contain vulnerabilities. They can be non-critical, or they can be very dangerous and allow attackers to complete control of the computer and use it for both hidden mining and further distribution of viruses, network attacks, and other bad purposes. It is necessary to limit the number of such vulnerabilities as much as possible and regularly check your computer for viruses and cryptohacking programs.
Characteristics of Hidden Mining
The inevitable consequence of hidden mining is increased power consumption, increased wear and tear on power supplies, and a significant reduction in the speed of the device to perform some volumetric operations. When the PC is operating normally, the additional load on the processor and graphics card is almost imperceptible. Clear signs of lack of performance of the main computational nodes appear only when running some large programs like video games, activating video player, etc.
Because there are different ways to mine cryptocurrencies, hidden mining can use the resources of the processor, graphics gas pedals, hard drive space, which under the constant load caused by mining inevitably uses up its resource. The availability of various algorithms for mining cryptocurrencies allows for mining not only computers but also other equipment that has computing resources connected to the Internet: routers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
The Danger of Hidden Mining
Malicious programs that use the power of a PC for hidden cryptocurrency mining pose many dangers to users and their devices. Specialists separately mention such negative factors:
- The software in question significantly reduces the processor and graphics card’s performance capabilities that are needed for practical work. The productivity of the device is noticeably reduced.
- There is significant damage to the operating system of the device on which the miner-virus operates.
- Fraudsters can obtain personal data through specially tuned programs, such as authorization information from an account on a cryptocurrency exchange or passwords from a digital coin vault.
- Overheating of computer system components due to excessive loads. This causes the device to break down quickly or, rarely, to catch fire.
Ordinary users are perfectly capable of detecting a miner on their computer. To do so, a few rules must be followed:
- Monitor your processor load. CPU load level, which tends to 100%, serves as indirect evidence; along with the load on the processor, you need to check the active processes to understand what is slowing down resources.
- Monitor the system warnings.
- Keep your antivirus up-to-date. Regular antivirus updates and periodic scans with an alternative tool should become your monthly routine.
- Install a plugin to block scripts on web pages. These can be browser extensions that know how to stop unwanted scripts: like AdBlock or NoScript.
- Avoid pirated content. Most often, scripts are embedded on resources with pirated content, torrent sites, forums, message boards, etc.
Artex Global very much hope that this article has helped you understand the process of hidden mining and that your suspicions, if any, have not been confirmed. Otherwise, it will be helpful for you to read our other articles, where we tell you how to remove hidden mining from your computer, as well as precautions.
I have been studying cryptocurrency for over 5 years. I have accounts in every exchange and I test everything on myself.
I want this market to be more understandable for everyone.