DEFINITION of 'Cryptojacking'

Cryptojacking is a form of cyber attack in which a hacker hijacks a target's processing power in order to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker's behalf.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cryptojacking'

Cryptojacking has become an increasingly popular way for bad actors to extract money from targets in the form of cryptocurrency. Widely publicized hacks such as the WannaCry worm, which affected systems on several continents in May 2017, encrypted victims' files and demanded cryptocurrency ransoms – bitcoin, in the case of WannaCry – in order to decrypt them.

Cryptojacking takes a different approach, harnessing victims' machines to "mine": perform the computations necessary to update cryptocurrencies' blockchains, creating new tokens and generating fees in the process. These new tokens and fees are deposited to wallets owned by the attacker, while the costs of mining – electricity and wear and tear to computers – are borne by the victim.

Examples of Cryptojacking Attacks

In February 2018, a Spanish cybersecurity firm, Panda, wrote that a cyrptojacking scrypt known as WannaMine had spread to "computers around the world." The malware was being used to mine monero, a cryptocurrency that is notable for its ability to mine using CPUs (as opposed to GPUs or ASICs) while actually having some value in fiat terms. 

Later the same month, governments in Britain, the U.S. and Canada were affected by a cryptojacking attack that took advantage of a vulnerability in a text-to-speech software embedded in many of these governments' sites. Attackers inserted Coinhive script into the software, allowing them to mine monero using visitors' browsers. 

Browser mining is becoming an increasingly common practice. The lines between cryptojacking and legitimate practice are not always clear. Coinhive is often described as malware, but Salon recently partnered with its developers to mine monero using visitors' browsers – with their permission – as a way of monetizing the outlet's content when faced with adblockers.

Some experts have cited the potential of browser mining as an alternative to ad-based monetization: in essence, legitimized cryptojacking. Such proposals are extremely controversial, given the potential costs to users in terms of power consumption and damage to hardware.

Later in February, it was revealed that Tesla Inc. had been the victim of cryptojacking when its Amazon Web Services software container was compromised. Similar attacks on companies have been reported going back to October 2017.

  1. Cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity refers to the measures taken to keep electronic ...
  2. Zero Day Attack

    Zero Day Attack is an attack that exploits a potentially serious ...
  3. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

    An Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is a large-scale, sophisticated, ...
  4. Bitcoin Mining

    Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified ...
  5. Supply Chain Attack

    A supply chain attack is a cyberattack that attempts to inflict ...
  6. Cryptocurrency

    A digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. ...
Related Articles
  1. Tech

    Sites Are Using Your Browser to Mine Crypto. It Could Be a Good Thing

    Early on, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies promised to disrupt the web's ad-based monetization model. They failed. Is browser mining a second chance?
  2. Tech

    Salon Wants to Use Your Computer for Cryptocurrency Mining wants to borrow readers' computers to mine the cryptocurrency Monero to make up for lost ad revenue.
  3. Tech

    More Websites Turn to Cryptocurrency Mining for Revenue

    As bitcoin's price soars higher and higher, websites look to cash in on a new source of revenue.
  4. Tech

    Tesla’s Cloud Was Hacked for Mining Cryptocurrency

    Tesla claims that customer privacy and vehicle safety weren't compromised during the attack.
  5. Tech

    Showtime Websites Used Visitors' Computer Power for Crypto Mining

    Sites linked to Showtime were caught running a script app called Coinhive, which harnessed visitors’ CPU power to mine cryptocurrencies.
  6. Tech

    How Much Does It Cost to Mine Bitcoin Around the World?

    Bitcoin mining costs vary widely in 115 countries, according to a new study.
  7. Investing

    New Cyber Attack Exploits Microsoft Bug, Generates Digital Currency

    Another cyber attack relying on a Microsoft bug is spreading around the globe at the same time the hacking group Shadow Brokers is warning of more pain to come.
  8. Tech

    How Do You Mine Litecoin?

    This guide will give you a sense of the concepts in litecoin mining, an introduction to the vocabulary and suggestions for further research.
  9. Investing

    Microsoft Turns to AI to Fight Cyberattacks

    Microsoft is turning to artificial intelligence in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attacks.
  10. Tech

    The Most Popular Bitcoin Mining Software

    Success at mining bitcoins depends on the combination of time, knowledge, computer hardware and the complementary software.
  1. What main factors affect share prices in the metals and mining sector?

    Discover the primary factors that influence share prices of companies in the metals and mining sector and how companies can ... Read Answer >>
  2. What value metrics are best for analyzing companies in the metals and mining sector?

    Learn what some of the best valuation measures are that analysts commonly use to evaluate companies in the metals and mining ... Read Answer >>
  3. What kind of risk exposure does an investor face when investing in the metals and ...

    Examine risks related to companies involved in the exploration and extraction of precious and base metals. These include ... Read Answer >>
  4. What developed countries have the greatest exposure to metals and mining?

    Learn about the three developed countries with the largest exposure to the metals and mining sector: Canada, Australia and ... Read Answer >>
  5. What is the metals and mining sector?

    Learn about the mining sector and the many ways that mining companies profit from the location and extraction of minerals ... Read Answer >>
  6. Which emerging markets should an investor consider for exposure to the metals and ...

    Discover the world's top emerging market countries for investing in the metals and mining sector and what mined resources ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Perfect Competition

    Pure or perfect competition is a theoretical market structure in which a number of criteria such as perfect information and ...
  2. Compound Interest

    Compound Interest is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods ...
  3. Income Statement

    A financial statement that measures a company's financial performance over a specific accounting period. Financial performance ...
  4. Leverage Ratio

    A leverage ratio is any one of several financial measurements that look at how much capital comes in the form of debt, or ...
  5. Annuity

    An annuity is a financial product that pays out a fixed stream of payments to an individual, primarily used as an income ...
  6. Restricted Stock Unit - RSU

    A restricted stock unit is a compensation issued by an employer to an employee in the form of company stock.
Trading Center