Despite a crash that saw the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plummet, the fever is not dead. Look no further than the race for computing power, which is reaching new and bizarre heights.
Cryptocurrencies in general and Bitcoin in particular requires an enormous amount of computing power to mine. That’s by design. As the difficulty of mining goes up, the cyber-prospectors of this new gold rush are employing all kinds of methods to corner as much horsepower as they can: Buying up graphics cards in bulk, co-opting high-tech government equipment, and most recently, illicitly employing the services of thousands of web browsers.
How To Spot Cryptojacking
Surreptitious forms of cryptojacking can be cleverly hidden. One website, for example, was hiding a cryptojacking script in a browser tab icon.
Fortunately, even the most well-hidden cryptojacking scripts necessarily reveal themselves in action. To do their work, they need to use a very noticeable amount of CPU power, enough that it might make your laptop’s fans kick on or slow down your system’s overall performance.
If you notice either of these conditions and get suspicious, just pull up your Task Manager on Windows (Ctrl+Alt+Delete) or Activity Monitor on a Mac (Command + Space and search for “Activity Monitor”). If your web browser is pulling a particularly high percentage of CPU power (close to all of it), there might be a cryptojacker at play.
If you suspect a certain website is to blame, you can test your theory by closing the tab and monitoring the results or, in Google Chrome, go to the Menu, then More Tools, then Task Manager to check CPU usage by tab.
How To Block It
Because modern browsers have a remarkable amount of access to your computer’s hardware, and because cryptojackers take advantage of some of the very services that make websites work, it’s tough to flip a switch and simply block them all with a snap.
Browser extensions like No Coin for Chrome or Firefox and MinerBlock for Chrome will attempt to block connections that match up with known cryptojackers. This should work in some cases, but it’s not a sure thing. These extensions will remain effective only as long as their databases are updated with the newest threats, and innovative cryptojackers could find ways to slip by.
There’s no perfect solution, but these measure mixed with a little bit of vigilance can help you defend yourself from the latest scourge of the web until Bitcoin finally bottoms out for good.