Protecting your devices from cryptojacking
June 7, 2018
by Jason Adler
Assistant Director, Midwest Region
Federal Trade Commission
Instead of minding their own business, are scammers using your computer as their virtual ATM? Three years ago, the FTC warned the public and took action against cryptojacking. That’s where scammers use your device’s processing power to “mine” cryptocurrency, which they can then convert into cold, hard cash.
Cryptojacking scams have continued to evolve, and they don’t even need you to install anything. Scammers can use malicious code embedded in a website or an ad to infect your device. Then they can help themselves to your device’s processor without you even knowing. You might make an unlucky visit to a website that uses cryptojacking code, click a link in a phishing email, or mistype a web address. Any of those could lead to cryptojacking. While the scammer cashes out, your device may slow down, burn through battery power, or crash.
So what can you do? Try the following:
- Follow the tried-and-true advice for avoiding malware: use antivirus software, set software and apps to update automatically, never install software or apps you don’t trust, don’t click links without knowing where they lead, and be careful about visiting unfamiliar sites.
- Look for and close performance hogs: It can be hard to diagnose cryptojacking, but one common symptom is poor device performance. Consider closing sites or apps that slow your device or drain your battery.
- Consider playing defense: Some browser extensions and ad blockers say they help defend against cryptojacking, doing things like blocking mining code. These tools may be worth considering but always do your homework first. Read reviews and check trusted sources before installing any online tools. Remember, too, that some websites may keep you from using their site if you have blocking software installed.
If you think cryptojacking has happened to you, the Federal Trade Commission wants to know. Report it to www.ftc.gov/complaint.