Crypto Currency: Ransomware & Your Vulnerability

Crypto mining is not against the law, nor is it a nefarious activity. At least not most of the time. But in order to fully understand why crypto mining can be a problem, we need to start from the beginning.

Our story starts with the creation of a crypto currency called “Bitcoin”.  Like Paypal, Bitcoin is an online transaction system. Unlike Paypal, Bitcoin is decentralized or “open source”. In other words, it’s open to all users, meaning any developer can modify the code that makes the software do what it does. However, all modifications must pass muster with the software’s lead developer, Gavin Andresen.

With Paypal, each transaction is authenticated by a single authority or custodian. By contrast, Bitcoin uses something called a blockchain. A blockchain is a public record sent to everyone in the network. When a transaction occurs, the computers in the network automatically adjust the balances of the addresses involved in the transaction. The beauty of this system is that it’s impossible for anyone to edit and makes for a permanent record of the transaction.

What Crypto Miners Do

Crypto miners are computers along that chain. Their sole purpose is to donate their processing power, enabling verification of transactions included in the current “block”. Once that is complete, a new block is created and a new public record is distributed. In exchange for use of their CPU power, crypto miners receive 12.5 Bitcoins for every ten minutes of processing power.

Being that crypto mining is computationally intensive, it requires resources that far exceed your average laptop computer (although in Bitcoin’s infancy, that wasn’t the case). It requires dedicated processors, graphic cards and more. There is overhead involved in mining currency.

Cryptocurrency Malware

As a way to circumvent these costs, disreputable miners developed malware that can imitate the botnets that normally perform this function. This malware can hijack your CPU and slow everything down – sometimes to a halt. Delivery of crypto malware can occur through all of the usual means – spam emails, links and unwanted applications.

And then there’s Ransomware

These same malwares can present themselves in the form of ransomware. Ransom is always requested in Bitcoin or any of the other 700+ cryptocurrencies around today. The reason for this is simple. Cryptocurrency works with complete anonymity. You can’t trace the sender or the receiver.

Develop a Plan

At Beacon, that’s what we do. As IT professionals, we work with you to ensure the safety and security of your online business.  Get a free website security assessment or contact us at 336.447.3473 with any questions regarding your businesses’ IT needs. Together, we can develop a prevention plan that’ll keep your proprietary information in and cyber criminals out.

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