Optiv Cybersecurity Dictionary

What is Cryptomining / Cryptojacking?

Cryptomining is a system by which "miners" contribute computer processing power and get paid in cryptocurrency to validate blockchain transactions. In its malicious form, cryptojacking is where hackers take control of a victim's computing resources to secretly mine cryptocurrency for their own benefit.


Cryptojacking is usually done via a malicious link in an email that loads cryptomining code onto a computer, or by infecting a website or online ad with JavaScript code that, once loaded, auto-executes in the victim's browser. The malware then works in the background as a victim uses their computer normally (unaware of its presence other than potentially slower performance or lags in execution).


This activity is attractive to hackers because they can infect multiple computers that then continuously mine for them, and the risk of being caught is lower since the code is surreptitious and can go undetected for a long time. Cryptojacking is different from most other types of malware because, in most cases, it doesn't permanently damage infrastructure or misappropriate victims’ data, however, it does steal CPU processing resources. The popularity of both cryptomining and cryptojacking will be closely tied to the price of crypocurrencies, which have proven to be highly volatile.

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