Cryptojacking Definition

KZero Staff
Jul 27, 2023

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojackers are a type of malware designed to mine cryptocurrency. They run computationally expensive operations on an infected computer to enable the attacker to make money without paying for the electricity or computational hardware used to do so.

The Blockchain Mining Process

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero use blockchain consensus algorithms to ensure that no one party can control the distributed ledger. This helps to protect against potential centralization, which enables censorship or a malicious party rewriting the ledger to their own benefit. With these consensus algorithms, a user’s control over the block creation process — and the rewards granted for creating new blocks — is proportional to their control of a scarce asset.

In the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus algorithm, which is used by Bitcoin and Monero, this scarce resource is computational power. To find a valid block, a miner will need to test many potential block candidates until it finds one that meets the current criteria. Since there is no way to determine if a potential block would be valid in advance, the only option is a computationally expensive guess-and-check process.

How Cryptojacking Works

Consensus algorithms like PoW are designed to make the block creation process cost money. This helps to ensure that it costs more to control enough of the scarce resource to carry out an attack than an attacker could earn by doing so.

Cryptojacking malware passes this cost of block creation off from the attacker to the owner of the infected machines. Cryptojacking malware is designed to perform the computationally expensive guess-and-check operation of evaluating if potential blocks are valid. If an infected system finds a valid block, it sends it to the malware operation for submission to the appropriate blockchain network.

These blocks that the cryptojacking malware are searching for are designed to pay the rewards for creating the block to the malware operator. This allows them to reap all of the profits of the block mining process without paying the costs of running the computers that are doing the work.

The Cryptojacking Threat

Cryptojacking malware may seem less threatening than data breaches or ransomware, which cause significant harm to the business. However, cryptojacking can have negative impacts on an organization, including:

  • Operational Costs: Cryptomining malware consumes significant computational resources. The organization will likely have a higher electricity bill due to the cryptojacking infection.
  • Reduced Performance: Cryptojacking malware consumes resources that otherwise could be used for other purposes. Infected servers may run slower or be able to handle fewer requests from employees or customers.
  • Additional Attacks: Cryptojacking malware is often distributed alongside other types of malware. If an organization is infected with cryptojackers, the attacker may also be collecting sensitive data or taking other malicious actions on company systems.


Cryptojackers are a type of malware that steals computational resources from an organization to mine cryptocurrency for the attacker’s benefit. Like other malware variants, the best way to manage the cryptojacking threat is to install endpoint security software, install updates promptly, and protect against phishing attacks.

KZero Staff

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