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A digital nomad and crypto enthusiast G. John Cole explains how cryptohackers can siphon the power of your devices, and shares core principals of effective protection.
When cryptocurrency is your passion, it’s difficult to accept that there are threats out there beyond the every day business of crashing prices. Crypto’s dirty little secret is that there are plenty of unscrupulous people who are happy to gamify the system, not recognizing that their hacking games are not just games: they affect real people. We’re talking about cryptojacking, a worrying crime that soared by over 600% in the last quarter of 2017 alone.
You know all about how much energy and processing power you need for cryptomining. But what if others are hacking your devices to siphon that power for themselves? It’s more than possible: it’s prevalent. If you’ve noticed your devices overheating, underperforming, or running out of battery unusually quickly, it could be because those processors are hard at work for someone else.
It’s time to put your defences up. Cryptohackers can get in through your browser if you click on the wrong link or download the wrong app. Thankfully, the browser gods of Firefox and Opera are helping you fight back. It’s possible to use a plug-in such as minerBlock to make your browser safer. Just be sure, as with all plug-ins and apps you access from now on, that you get it through the official channels and not some dodgy third-party site.
In fact, Opera have even created the first browser for mobile devices to have a built-in cryptojacking detector. You should use this on your phone. But it’s also important to keep your operating system updated, since those updates contain essential security measures against insidious new security threats such as cryptojacking! Be sure to do so on your private WiFi network to be extra secure.
And about that home WiFi: you need to make sure your hardware is secure. Get a secure home router and pick complex passwords for it, which you should change regularly. Set yourself an alert to do this, since it’s a bit of security housework that often evaporates after those initial good intentions.
Okay, now you’re a bit more secure. But how do you know if they’ve already got you? Well, your CPU usage will be through the roof to start. Use your activity monitor to check for suspicious tasks, and quit those suspicious looking processes. On your phone, it’s worth going into your battery usage record in Settings, which will reveal to you whether a large percentage of the energy eaten by your phone in the last few hours is caused by something you don’t recognize.
And let’s get back to Opera again: always one of the cannier browser companies, they’ve created a website you can visit that quickly tests whether any of your open tabs are involved in Cryptojacking. And the good thing about this is that you can try it on any browser. Opera’s angle is it gives them a chance to show off to you about how their browser might be safer.
So there’s really no excuse in becoming a cryptojacking victim. Run through this new anti-cryptojacking infographic for a few more ideas on how to be safe. Crypto is supposed to be making you rich, not killing your computer!