What happens when hackers steal your processing power but not your data?
IBM Managed Security Services reported in 2017 that the number of CPUs hijacked just to mine cryptocurrency grew sixfold between January and August. These computers are infected with highly intelligent viruses that steal their processing power, and they’re smart enough to avoid detection.
Technically, your data may be safe from cryptojacking malware, but only because the target is your CPU’s power. The bigger threat, especially to businesses and larger networks, is the wear and tear that mining viruses place on processors and equipment. Infected computers and drives never rest. The longer they’re infected, the longer you’re paying for someone else’s mining operation.
What are they after?
A year after IBM’s report, Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that 68 percent of breaches weren’t discovered for months. Yet in 87 percent of all data breaches, hackers acquire the information they’re looking for within minutes. Even after being compromised, companies have a lot of trouble finding the moles in their systems.
CPU breaches are catching up to data breaches — but with a very different goal in mind. Mining cryptocurrency is a numbers game. The more processing power that cryptocurrency miners have, the faster they can make money.
Hackers want massive profits, and they don’t want to invest in massive hardware, so they hijack and use unsuspecting computers around the world instead. The more CPUs hackers take over, the more currency they can mine. By staying under the radar, they can gain unlimited access to more machines for a much longer time. They simply embed themselves in the hardware and crank up the processing power whenever the computers are idle.
Why does it matter?
If you don’t know that your computers are infected by a cryptomining malware virus and if your company data remains unharmed, it can be easy to question why this matters. Cryptojacking means not only that someone else is controlling your computers and you’re footing the bill, but also that your IT infrastructure is being taxed well beyond its limits.
Most laptops and business IT systems aren’t designed to handle the massive processing requirements of cryptomining. If your computers never rest, their processors will burn out well before they should. Productivity and performance will suffer, utility bills will rise, and even your remote devices can become compromised if the virus infects your cloud infrastructure.
While ransomware threatens the safety of your company’s data, cryptojacking has a unique set of far-reaching threats. Cryptojacking can lose you money continuously by lowering productivity, creating malfunctions in your IT equipment, and increasing electricity costs.
How do I get rid of Miner Malware?
While you might not be able to completely avoid ever being affected by cryptojacking, you can learn to recognize and recover from it. The best way is to add a few layers to your IT security that can spot the virus’s actions and effectively remove it.
For example, all malware has to phone home to let its creator know that it was successful. Cryptojacking malware is no different, and one of the most effective ways to catch it is by running antivirus software to look for those outbound calls. For instance, if one of your laptops routinely pings an IP address in Russia but you have no clients there, then it’s probably the malware talking.
Once you’ve detected it, you can remove the virus with advanced anti-malware solutions or manually remove the virus from all of your infected machines.
Crypto-mining malware can be complex and intimidating, but knowing what it is and how to defend against it can make it easier to watch for. If you’re not sure about where to start with defending your business against cryptocurrency mining malware, reach out to The Purple Guys for more information.