Cryptocurrency mining is the process that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use to create new coins and verify transactions through the use of computing power. Research shows that the daily revenue generated by Bitcoin miners is $27.7 million.
This not just draws the attention of companies using crypto-assets for investment, operational, and transactional purposes but also leads to a rise in crypto-mining attacks, including cryptojacking. Such attacks occur when cybercriminals gain access to mining pools and accounts and exploit miners’ computing resources in order to run their own mining operations without paying money.
While crypto-mining can quickly increase overall cost, a mining attack can cause even much larger bills than anticipation. So, there should be some protective, detective, and mitigation measures in place to protect organizations from loss and damage.
This post is intended for companies and individuals alike to help protect their assets and resources from cryptocurrency mining attacks and mitigate the effect an attack could have.
How to Secure Mining Operations from Cryptocurrency Attacks
In this section, we will walk you through some best practices for keeping your mining operations safe from malicious actors. Here is what you need to know to prevent and control crypto-mining attacks:
Select a Reputable and Secure Mining Pool
Cryptomining pools are a vital part of a cryptocurrency network as they allow miners from all across the globe to combine their hash power to generate new blocks. While these pools offer an array of benefits to the miners, they can be vulnerable to cryptocurrency attacks.
So, the best bet is to choose a well-established and secure mining pool that implements strict access controls, performs regular audits on systems for vulnerabilities, and employs safe and reliable payment mechanisms to safeguard miners’ earnings.
Monitor Resource Utilization
Cryptocurrency mining utilizes a significant amount of computing resources, including a CPU, memory, and storage. In case of an attack, these normal CPU activities usually show signs of malfunction.
So, network administrators should continually monitor their mining devices for any signs of crypto-mining attacks, such as unexpected excessive processor usage, slower performance, overheating, lags in execution, etc. They should also perform periodic checks on their task manager to see which processes are consuming the most resources.
Ensure Crypto Wallet Security
Mining requires the transmission of cryptocurrencies which are stored in wallets, so it is important to use only reliable wallets that are protected from theft or unauthorized access. Practicing good password hygiene is crucial, which include using strong passwords, avoiding password reuse, updating password regularly, and opting for a password manager.
Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes it even more difficult for attackers to gain access to digital wallets. This multi-layered protection method works by granting the user access to a platform, application, or site only after verifying identity multiple times but differently.
Using secure network connections is also advisable for accessing sensitive data. However, a secure virtual private network (VPN), like ExpressVPN, is a good option when using public Wi-Fi network. A VPN creates a secure connection between a network and a device to give attackers a tough time gaining access to crypto wallets.
Other good security practices include utilizing cold wallets for offline storage and regularly backup up data.
Enable Firewall and Intrusion Detection Systems
Firewalls function as a first line of defense against network-based threats, such as crypto-mining attacks. A Web Application Firewall, or WAF, can help prevent crypto-jacking and with excellent analysis of web traffic to the applications.
It uses Layer 7 filtering, where attackers try to access vulnerabilities within the deployed applications, and has a rule that helps address Apache Log4j vulnerabilities that can be used to introduce malware for performing illicit mining.
Besides configuring firewalls, deploying intrusion detection systems (IDS) can also improve threat detection capabilities and provide real-time alerts for suspicious network behavior.
Employ Ad-Blocking Extensions and Script Blockers
Web-based crypto-mining malware attempts often occur through malicious advertisements or scripts embedded in websites, so the simplest method of preventing them from mining cryptocurrencies is to use ad-blocking extensions and script blockers.
Ad-blockers can prevent malicious ads that may include crypto-jacking scripts, while browser extensions particularly designed to fight crypto-jacking can proactively detect and block the execution of mining scripts on websites, offering an extra layer of protection at the time of browsing.
By using ad-blocking extensions and script blockers, miners can mitigate the chances of mistakenly accessing infected web pages with hidden mining scripts.
Keep Your Incident Response Plan Updated
Crypto-mining organizations must ensure that their incident response plan offers prescriptive guidance on how they will respond to cryptocurrency mining attacks. For instance, it is important for the plan to include:
- How to identify potential risks and vulnerabilities and build a team with clear roles and responsibilities.
- How to differentiate valid high-performance (HPC) workloads from cryptocurrency mining attacks.
- How to determine the scope and severity of the incident.
- How to handle compromised account credentials.
- How to quarantine affected systems and prevent any further damage.
- What information must be logged for their retrospective actions.
- How to confirm if their remediation activities effectively put an end to mining activities and dealt with the preliminary vulnerabilities that led to the attack.
Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan
It is clear that cryptocurrency mining is a resource-intensive operation, and losing mining data can be damaging. By implementing disaster recovery plans, you can prepare for a cryptocurrency mining attack.
This plan ensures that mining processes can recover forthwith from events unlooked for, such as malware infections or hardware failures. It must give the ability to find out what a known good state is so the cyber attacker cannot use the same vulnerabilities time after time to exploit your resources.
To summarize, the growth of the mining industry and significant financial rewards for coin miners are causing an increase in crypto-mining attacks. And the alarming number and prevalence of such attacks indicate that they can not be ignored anymore.
But the good part is that both mining organizations and individuals can maintain the integrity of their mining processes and prevent these attacks by following the best practices mentioned above.