Three years ago, the Federal Trade Commission warned the public and took action against cryptojacking but scams continue to evolve. In this cybersecurity vulnerability scammers use your device’s processing power to “mine” cryptocurrency, which they can then convert into cash, the FTC said in a release.
In one case, “a smartphone app developer agreed to settle charges by the FTC and the New Jersey Attorney General that it lured consumers into downloading its “rewards” app, saying it would be free of malware, when the app’s main purpose was actually to load the consumers’ mobile phones with malicious software to mine virtual currencies for the developer,” the FTC reported.
Scammers use malicious code embedded in a website or an ad to infect your device. Then they can connect to your device’s processor without you even knowing. For example, 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 steps could lead to cryptojacking. While the scammer steals your information, your device may slow down, drain the battery, or crash.
The FTC offers these protection tips:
- Follow proven 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.
- Be mindful of performance hogs. It can be hard to detect cryptojacking, but one common symptom is poor device performance. Consider closing sites or apps that slow your device or drain your battery.
- Use defensive measures. Some browser extensions and ad blockers claim they help defend against cryptojacking, by 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. Some websites may keep you from using their site if you have blocking software installed.
As technological advances expand the ways consumers can store, share and spend money, the FTC is working to keep consumers protected while encouraging innovation for their benefit and convenience. If you think cryptojacking has happened to you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov/complaint.