Ransomware, data theft, critical systems shutdowns—these are among the major cybersecurity threats that companies know they face today from hostile attacks. Recently, ransomware shut down a major U.S. pipeline for several days, while other recent high-profile attacks have targeted hospitals and utilities. Last year’s SUNBURST and SuperNova incidents underscore the risk companies face from ever-more-sophisticated attackers. But the cybersecurity threat landscape is constantly shifting, and less obvious threats can arise that receive less coverage yet still could have significant impacts on corporate security. One of those threats is cryptojacking.
Cryptojacking is a relatively new phenomenon, driven by the rising price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The blockchains underlying cryptocurrencies rely on in-chain encryption, and adding a new transaction to the chain (for example, when one person sends bitcoins to another) requires solving the mathematical puzzle necessary to generate new encryption keys to securely encrypt the prior data.