A crypto miner virus is a software program designed to circumvent the success of excavating digital coins. It’s only one of several challenges that miners face, but is arguably the most destructive.
As a crypto enthusiast, you are probably aware that Bitcoin (BTC) is created through a computational process known as mining. With over 2.9 million Bitcoins still unmined (and hence, undiscovered), cryptocurrency miners are steadily developing cutting-edge, pre-built mining rigs to cash in on the largesse and add to the ecosystem. The market remains largely speculative, but the enthusiasm that Bitcoin generates among its experts is understandable given its signs of recuperation after a year of virtual stagnation.
At the time of this writing, one (1) Bitcoin exchanges for a little over $9,000. Compare this with its $6,000 valuation in October 2018 and we have what represents a 50% increase! Sure, this astronomical rise is heartwarming, but volatility is just one of the challenges that bitcoin miners face. Beyond market uncertainty and the massive consumption of power lies the inevitability of a crypto miner virus—a software program designed to circumvent the success of excavating digital coins.
But just how much of a threat is this malware to your digital fortune? Let’s put it into context.
Meet the Crypto Miner Virus
Users of all levels are often unaware when some virus has invaded or hijacked their device due to the manner in which it operates. Cryptojacking is a similar process in which the unleashing of bot-like, malicious programs inflict a range of damage on a targeted system. According to cybersecurity experts, enthusiasts and random computer users alike are susceptible to crypto miner trojans, with cryptojacking occurring if/when coins are detected.
Although a crypto miner virus can manifest itself in many different forms, Trojan.BitcoinMiner is one of the most common. Upon invading your system, Trojan.BitcoinMiner leeches on the central processing unit (CPU) or graphics processing unit (GPU) of your device. By compromising these powerful resources, any digital coins that are unearthed are forwarded to the sender or mastermind of the crypto miner virus. Interestingly, this process could go on for a long time without you ever suspecting that your device is under siege. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab reported that in addition to cryptojacking, a crypto miner virus may also employ ransomware to achieve monetary success.
With computer gurus and companies deploying their resources to either create their own cryptocurrency or make the most of their crypto mining efforts, hackers are not sleeping a wink. They are constantly seeking out ways to outsmart genuine miners to cash in on their inadequacies. To make matters worse, crypto mining Trojans aren’t just used for thwarting Bitcoin. Other cryptocurrencies, like Monero and Electroneum, can also be harvested. The fact of the matter is that (conceptually) every digital coin is at risk. And that’s only the beginning.
Crypto Miner Virus Effects
When a crypto miner virus crawls on your CPU and/or graphics cards, it stays put for a long time (much like spyware) and uses your computer’s components at their highest intensity. After a while, you might notice your device easily gets hot, which may lead to disruptions, abrupt reboots or outright damage. This is quite alarming given that today’s processing chips are far more durable than those which existed some decades back.
But these aren’t the only effects a crypto miner virus might have on your device. Mining is a process which consumes a lot of power. This usually remains at the forefront of a miner’s concerns. Because of this, the mining process is often conducted in locations where power is both affordable and reliable, and temperatures are optimal. Mining in places with temperatures greater than 75 degrees Celsius is an absolute “no-no” if you seek longevity from your processing chips—namely, your graphics card.
Guess what? These concerted efforts amount to nothing when a crypto miner virus pounces onto your system. Studies have shown that the presence of such malware increases the demand for more computational power. This not only shortens the lifespan of your processing chips but increases the amount of your electricity bills.
Motive Behind the Crypto Miner Virus
So how would you know if your system is being attacked by a crypto miner virus? In order to detect its presence, you must first understand its motive. Whether Trojan.BitcoinMiner or some other strand, each arguably have the same mission: To thwart and upset the efforts of legitimate crypto miners. The authors of such malware are continuously deploying new iterations in hopes of harvesting the efforts of a growing list of crypto enthusiasts.
As noted previously, the mining process takes time and consumes a lot of computing resources. Cybercriminals, ironically, are not willing to invest in either. They’d much rather someone else do this heavy lifting, while they write malicious programs that will redirect the benefits to them.
The performance of a system (or lack thereof) has a lot to do with the success of any hijacking process. Therefore, when a crypto miner virus makes it way onto your device, you will notice that the performance of your system will significantly diminish. Researchers of the Trojan.BitcoinMiner virus suggest that it can envelop over 50% of your device’s processing chips. While this level of damage occurs over time, resources like random access memory (RAM) and network bandwidth are hardly as spared.
Additional Symptoms and Propagation
The emergence of another crypto miner virus, the Rakhni Ransomware+Miner Trojan, is a testament to the fact that hackers aren’t resting in the face of laurel or defeat. When the Rakhni Ransomware+Miner Trojan strikes your hard drive, it certainly leaves its imprint. If you are a Bitcoin investor who uses a cold wallet, it will typically invade the Bitcoin folder in the %AppData% directory on your machine.
Over time, the bots that were installed in this directory begin to multiply and display symptoms of a typical Trojan infection. This mostly involves the slowing down of your computer system, but may also include surges in ads, or malvertisements, and redirection to corrupt domains. If no action is taken, the Rakhni Ransomware+Miner will literally eat up the sensitive parts of your system, rendering it useless.
But propagation doesn’t always mean a new iteration of a particular virus. More often than not, it implies how a virus spreads from one device to another. A crypto miner virus, like most Trojan horses, is advanced through malign email attachments and other forms of social engineering. Other times it is posted as a spam notification or corrupt link on an entirely different platform. The whole idea is to get you to download and install it without you actually knowing you’ve done so.
If you’re a computer whiz, then none of these old tricks should come as a shock to you, nor should the fact that hackers are constantly revising their antics in hopes of outsmarting you some day. Even still, the aforementioned strategies are effective in their own rights, as both experts and novices have admitted to falling victim to at least one of them at some point during their online existence.
Getting Rid of the Crypto Miner Virus
Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, are gradually taking the place of GPU-enabled systems for their capacities of delivering more hashing power (more than 14.0 TH/s, to be exact). The Bitcoin ASIC, for example, is especially built for mining machines and computers. But regardless of the number of miners turning to ASICs, there is still a large market share of graphic cards used for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency.
If you happen to be one of those using a GPU-powered system, you wouldn’t want to play Russian roulette with its safety, would you? Hardware and software assets can be expensive! You must therefore take the appropriate steps to protect your investments from prying eyes and hazards like the crypto miner virus. And this can be as simple as protecting your system with the right antivirus (AV) software.
Most AV products on the market are not equipped to handle powerful, harmful programs like Rakhni Ransomware+Miner and Trojan.BitcoinMiner. This typically means that you should opt for dedicated antispyware that can block such threats. The following is a list of apps you can use to eradicate the threat of crypto Trojans on your device.
Spyhunter for Windows
This suite of tools provides the opportunity to keep your computer secure when mining for cryptocurrency. What’s better is that you can do so without paying through your nose for a solid AV app. As Checkmark-certified software, Spyhunter for Windows is FREE and capable of keeping crypto-targeted viruses at bay. With just a simple three (3) step installation process, you will have this software running and scanning through your computer in no time. It also updates automatically to keep your system safe and stay abreast of the latest trends. SpyHunter for Windows is an excellent choice because it detects and removes all manner of threats–not just those that are crypto-related.
RKill is a reputable antispyware product you may want to try. It is also a FREE product, brought to you exclusively from the folks at BleepingComputer.com. RKill was specifically developed to cleanse your computer system and ensure that it stays safe. When you install and run this program, it practically terminates any viral processes it detects and expunges their associated executable (EXE) files. In the end, it notifies you that the operation was successful. With regular updates and weighing in at just 1.72MBs, RKill is perhaps best described as a champion in the featherweight class of AV software. It’s easy to install and use, and is sure to keep your system upbeat.
This product is also FREE and effective in its own right. Yep, you read that right! Also donning a simple, three (3) step installation process, you will have this program up and running with little effort. Reimage is especially good at removing and repairing ransomware-inflicted damage. If your challenge is a Windows error repair, Windows Operating System (OS) recovery error, or stability and hardware issues, then this product is for you. You can bank on Reimage’s ability to get your system back up and running in a New York minute.
Malwarebytes is undeniably one of the undisputed kings in the antivirus (AV) market. This product is everywhere and seems to have a flavor for nearly every sort of threat that’s currently in the wild. Diagnosing and riding your computer of Trojan horses (including those of the crypto miner virus class) just got a lot easier with Malwarebytes. Interestingly enough, you don’t have to pay a dime to download and use its free version of the software. With Checkmark certification, you can be sure that you have an effective webtool that gives your system maximum protection. From malware removal to comprehensive protection, quarantine to optimal system performance, you can rely on this product for a wide range of issues.
If you think free software is not capable of resolving your specific issue related to Trojan infestation, we finally arrive at a solution that isn’t free but still very cost-efficient. With a free trial period and subscription model of just $5 per year afterward, Combo Antivirus offers cloud-based scanning, intelligent protection, a user-friendly interface and the isolation of invented files. It offers real value in exchange for a low annual premium.
With over 25% of users in Russia alone having to deal with some form of a crypto miner virus since 2017, any savvy computer user should pause for concern. The good news (if any) is that any of the antivirus (AV) products mentioned above are capable of keeping your system safe. And there are several other options not mentioned in this article (the AV market is competitive and flooded with products). Even if you aren’t necessarily a Bitcoin miner, it makes sense to arm yourself against threats of this nature—especially before your computer is a compromised and converted into a rig of some sort. It may sound like a stretch, but stranger and far more destructive things have happened. Why procrastinate? Start today and take the steps needed to keep your computer safe from the threat of a crypto miner virus.