Cryptocurrency is wildly popular. Whether it’s the well-known Bitcoin or the lesser-known Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple or Monero, future investors and even everyday people are looking for a way to get in on this self-regulating currency that’s the basis of a lot of online transactions. Unfortunately, though cryptocurrency is a common part of dialogue these days, few people understand exactly what it is, or how it’s obtained.

This misunderstanding can cause major security issues, since there are unscrupulous individuals out there looking for any way they can get this money. That includes hijacking your computer system to mine coin for themselves. Understand the ways criminals target your network for illicit cryptocurrency mining, and learn how a good IT services company can help to protect you against hackers.

Understanding Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is often generically referred to as “bitcoin,” though Bitcoin is only one kind of cryptocurrency. In truth, this refers to a kind of digital currency for exchange. It works like any other currency but exists only in cyberspace and operates completely unregulated and independent of traditional banks. Rather, it uses blockchain technology and encryption to secure transactions.

How Do I Get Cryptocurrency?

Most cryptocurrency is gained through a process called cryptomining. In essence, you install cryptomining software on a system, and this software solves complex math problems related to transaction validation. Every solved equation will verify a transaction, and earn x amount of cryptocurrency. This requires a huge amount of processing power to do, and generally requires a number of computers on a network just to mine a single coin.

Illicit Cryptocurrency Mining

Not everyone has access to the kinds of computing and networking power needed to engage in cryptomining. As such a lot of hackers have turned to hijacking individual computers on the Internet and using them as an ad hoc network to mine their currency. This process of illicit cryptocurrency mining is called cryptojacking. It happens when webpages, operating systems and software vulnerabilities are exploited to install software on your system without knowing it.

Such software can seriously degrade the performance of your system, use tons of power, disrupt normal operations, and even, if your company is at risk, cost you money in dealing with these problems. It can even result in systems failure.

How an IT Services Company Defends against Mining

An IT services company will install up-to-date and powerful antivirus software on your systems, keep your OS and software up to date all the time, and use strong security practices to protect you. These practices include training you and your staff to use strong passwords incorporating characters, numbers, capital letters and symbols.

Your IT company will check and manage system privilege policies, use application whitelists and blacklists, limit downloading of potentially dangerous files and monitor your network for abnormal activity. They will also disable any unnecessary services and remove unused software, as well as performing input validation on your web servers and applications. Finally, they’ll install powerful firewalls to block malicious traffic entering and exiting your system.

If you’re in need of a security check or upgrade to defend against illicit cryptocurrency mining, US Computer can help. Read more about what we do and get in touch for more information today.