Cryptojacking malware has overtaken ransomware as the number one threat. Detecting and removing such threats has become more important than ever before. McAfee Labs' Threats Report for 2018 states that "total 'coin miner' malware has grown more than 4,000% in the past year."
Cryptojacking refers to the practice of gaining access to and using a computer's resources to mine any cryptocurrency without the device owner's knowledge or consent. Bitcoin is still the most popular cryptocurrency, and bitcoin mining malware is unsurprisingly among the top cryptojacking threats.
How to Detect Bitcoin Mining Malware
Unlike ransomware, bitcoin mining threats are not obtrusive and are more likely to remain unnoticed by the victim. However, detecting cryptojacking threats is relatively easy. If the victim is using a premium software security suite it is almost certain to detect any bitcoin mining malware. Even without a security solution, the victim is likely to suspect there is something wrong because mining bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies is a very resource intensive process. The most common symptom is a noticeable and often constant drop in performance. This symptom alone doesn't tell the victim what the exact problem is. The user can experience similar issues for a variety of reasons. Still, bitcoin mining malware can be very disruptive because it will hog all available computing power and the sudden change in the way the infected device performs is likely to make the victim look for solutions. If the hardware of the affected device is powerful enough, and the victim does not detect and remove the threat quickly, the power consumption and consequently the electricity bill will go up noticeably too.
How to Remove Bitcoin Mining Malware
Once the victim has ascertained that their problem is a cryptojacking malware threat, for the common user there are a couple of solutions. First and foremost finding a premium software security suite would be the best solution. There is no shortage of available cybersecurity software that will detect and remove bitcoin mining malware. Alternatively, if the infected machine doesn't contain important data or the victim has backed up such data in a clean location, and the user has some experience, formatting the hard drives could work. This solution may not be adequate if the infection has infiltrated one or more networks the machine is a part of.
Ultimately, getting a security solution developed by professionals involves a lot less work and carries significantly less risk. Using a reputable cybersecurity suite is a very basic and very important part of good Internet practices, and in this case, could potentially prevent the infection in the first place.