What Is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is a type of cyberattack in which a hacker co-opts a target's computing power to illicitly mine cryptocurrency on the hacker's behalf. Cryptojacking can target individual consumers, massive institutions, and even industrial control systems.

The malware variants involved in cryptojacking slow down infected computers, as the mining process takes priority over other legitimate activities.

Understanding Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking has become an increasingly popular way for fraudsters and criminals to extract money from their targets in the form of cryptocurrency. One widely publicized hack, the WannaCry worm hack, affected systems on several continents in May 2017. In this instance of cryptojacking, fraudsters encrypted victims' files and demanded cryptocurrency ransoms in the form of Bitcoin in order to decrypt them.

Cryptojacking harnesses victims' machines to mine, or perform the computations necessary to update cryptocurrencies' blockchains, thereby 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—including electricity and wear and tear to computers—are borne by the victim.

Examples of Cryptojacking

In February 2018, a Spanish cybersecurity firm, Panda Security, announced that a cryptojacking script, known by its nickname "WannaMine," had spread to computers around the world. The new malw