The last year has been an interesting one for cybersecurity.

A number of events throughout 2017 thrust the topic of cybersecurity into public discussions including WannaCry – the ransomware that tore through the National Health Service in the UK.

But 2017 ain’t got nothing on 2018.

Research out today from Kaspersky Lab reports that the internet resembles something of a minefield at the moment thanks to drive-by cryptocurrency mining. This is when a criminal plants some code on a website that uses your hardware to mine cryptocurrency.

“The number of internet users that have been attacked by malicious crypto currency mining software has increased from 1.9 million to 2.7 million in just one year,” says Kaspersky Lab.

Perhaps most worrying is that users in emerging markets (such as here in South Africa) appear to be the target of these criminals. Kaspersky doesn’t say why that might be but we’d guess that it might be because folks don’t know its happening.

We say this because the only way you’ll know a website is hiding a cryptocurrency mining script is when your CPU ramps up. If crims are a bit more sly you might never know a criminal is using your hardware and electricity to line their pockets.

“For cybercriminals, ransomware is a noisy and risky way of making money; it attracts media and state attention. The mining model however, is easier to activate and more stable – you attack your victims, discreetly build crypto currency using their CPU or GPU power, and then transfer that into real money through legal exchanges and transactions,” writes security expert at Kaspersky Lab, Anton Ivanov.

The best way to prevent this is to turn your PC off and never browse the internet again. Of course we’re joking.

There are a number of extensions that scan websites for mining scripts and block the script. Some adblockers do this as well but not all so we recommend you check. We’ve been using the No Coin extension for Google Chrome for a while now and it’s rather good but we highly recommend doing some research before installing any Google Chrome extension.


[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.