By now, you’ve probably heard of cryptocurrency, but you may not know exactly what it is. To put it simply, cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies that have actual monetary value in today’s world. They are limited entries of transactions into a single database, or public ledger, that can’t be changed without fulfilling certain conditions. These transactions are verified and added to the public ledger through cryptocurrency mining. Cryptocurrency miners try to make money by compiling these transactions into blocks and solving complicated mathematical problems to compete with other miners for the cryptocurrency. While this process of mining for cryptocurrencies can be lucrative, it requires large amounts of computing power.
Unfortunately, the need for massive amounts of hardware has provoked cybercriminals to participate in cryptojacking, a method of using malware to exploit victims’ computers to mine for cryptocurrencies. Cybercrooks spread cryptojacking malware through sketchy mobile apps, flawed software, and malware-infected ads. They can even cryptojack your device during a browsing session while you’re perusing a website that appears completely harmless. Once a user’s device becomes infected, the malware drains the device’s CPU, causing the user’s computer fan to be loud while the malware mines for cryptocurrencies in the background. Unfortunately, symptoms of cryptojacking are usually pretty subtle, with poor device performance being one of the few signs of its presence.
Thankfully, McAfee WebAdvisor is here to help. This security solution, which helps block users from malware and phishing attempts, now includes Cryptojacking Blocker. This enhancement is a Windows-based browser add-on available for Google Chrome that helps stop malicious websites from mining for cryptocurrency. So far, our direct and retail McAfee WebAdvisor customers have already started receiving the update that adds Cryptojacking Blocker to their product, and the customers who have WebAdvisor through other partners should begin to see this update roll out during Q1. The same thing goes for those who own McAfee LiveSafe and McAfee Total Protection. Additionally, we’re aiming to add support for Firefox in the coming months. And if you don’t already have WebAdvisor, you can download it for free on our website, with Cryptojacking Blocker included in your download.
In addition to using a security solution like McAfee WebAdvisor, here are some other general tips to help you stay safe online:
- Create a strong, unique password. Although it may be easier to remember, reusing passwords across multiple accounts puts all of your data at risk even if just one of your accounts is breached. Choosing a complex password for each individual online account will act as a stronger first line of defense. You can also use a password manager so all of your credentials are consolidated into one place.
- Be careful where you click. If you come across a website that seems sketchy or notice that the URL address looks odd, avoid interacting with the site entirely. Stick to browsing websites you know are reputable.
- Update, update, update! Cybercriminals can take advantage of old software to spread cryptojacking malware. Keeping your software updated with the latest patches and security fixes can help you combat this threat.