With the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Lightcoin and Ripple, there’s been an increasing number of cryptojacking cyber attacks. The computers of businesses as well as individuals are being hijacked to mine cryptocurrency on behalf of a hacker. While cryptojacking may sound like a minor threat — especially when compared to other cyber threats like Trojan viruses and ransomware — it poses some serious problems for victims.

What Is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is a cyber threat that involves the deployment of crypto-mining malware on an unsuspecting victim’s computer or device. Hackers perform this cyber attack to steal the virtual resources of a victim’s computer or device so that they can mine cryptocurrency. Once a hacker has deployed crypto-mining malware on a victim’s computer, he or she can begin to mine cryptocurrency.

For victims, cryptojacking is a major headache that often results in poor performance of the infected computer or device. All forms of crypto-mining software require virtual resources like CPU or GPU to mine cryptocurrency. If a hacker targets your business with crypto-mining malware, you can expect significantly slower speeds when using the infected computer or device. As the crypto-mining malware runs in the background, it will consume valuable CPU or GPU that could otherwise be used for legitimate processes.

The Rise of Cryptojacking

How common is cryptojacking exactly? Just a decade ago, there was no such thing as cryptojacking. It wasn’t until the last few years when hacking began creating and deploying crypto-mining malware. Since then, however, it’s become a serious problem for businesses and individuals alike.

According to a McAfee study cited by Forbes, the number of cryptojacking cases ballooned by over 4,000% from 2017 to 2018. A separate report found that over 50,000 devices this year have been infected with a new, more sophisticated type of crypto-mining malware.

How to Protect Against Cryptojacking

As a business owner, you should take steps to protect your organization’s computers and devices from cryptojacking. The good news is that, like most forms of malware, you can prevent crypto-mining malware from making its way onto your business’s computers and devices. Anti-malware software, for instance, is typically able to detect and quarantine crypto-mining malware.

Because crypto-mining malware typically requires downloading, you can also protect your business from cryptojacking by using a firewall. A firewall will automatically scan your business’s incoming and outgoing traffic for malware. If it detects malware, it will filter the file so that you aren’t able to download it.