Cryptojacking Rose by 8,500% Last Year

It's easy, profitable, secretive and malicious. Cryptojacking, the process of utilizing  someone else's computer and processing power to mine for digital coins, has become immensely popular among the criminal community. In fact, according to bitcoinist.com, the number of instances of cryptojacking rose by as much as 8,500% in the last year. The cybersecurity company Symantec Corp. (SYMC) published a report on the Cyber Security Threat Landscape that provided the calculation.

One of the primary reasons why cryptojacking has become as prominent as it has is the low barrier to entry. Symantec explains that cryptojacking is simple, "potentially only requiring a couple of lines of code to operate—and coin mining can allow criminals to fly under the radar in a way that is not possible with other types of cybercrime."

Taking a broader look at illicit cryptomining across the globe, the figures are not any more reassuring. In the last quarter of 2017 in Sweden, for example, cryptojacking rose by 10,000%.

$7 Million in Six Months

Kaspersky Lab, another cybersecurity operation dedicated to blockchain and cryptocurrency studies, explains that cybercriminals may have stolen more than $7 million through cryptojacking scripts over the past six months alone.

The issue is not limited to hackers overriding individual machines. Tesla Inc. (TSLA), the electric vehicle manufacturer headed up by Elon Musk and long seen as a leader in the field of innovative technology, was a target of cryptomining as well. The company's cloud account with Amazon.com Inc.'s (AMZN) AWS unit was infiltrated by hackers for cryptojacking purposes.

CTO  Guarav Kumar of the security firm Redlock explains that "the unmistakable potential of cloud environments is seriously compromised by sophisticated hackers identifying easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities." Individuals can help to protect their own computers in a number of ways, however. There are open-source browser extensions designed to block cryptojacking that are available for free. Further, computers that run more slowly or at a higher temperature than normal could be showing the symptoms of cryptojacking. For the time being, it can be difficult to assess whether or not cryptojacking scripts may have infiltrated your machine, so precaution is one of the best means of defense.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.

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