Cryptocurrency mining is the way transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, a database of all the transactions made around a particular piece of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency miners compile all of these transactions into blocks and try to solve complicated mathematical problems to compete with other miners for bitcoins. To do this, miners need a ton of computer resources, since successful bitcoin mining requires a large amount of hardware. Unfortunately, these miners can be used for more nefarious purposes if they’re included within malicious software. Enter WebCobra, a malware that exploits victims’ computers to help cybercriminals mine for cryptocurrencies, a method also known as cryptojacking.
How does WebCobra malware work, exactly? First, WebCobra uses droppers (Trojans designed to install malware onto a victim’s device) to check the computer’s system. The droppers let the malware know which cryptocurrency miner to launch. Then, it silently slithers onto a victim’s device via rogue PUP (potentially unwanted program) and installs one of two miners: Cryptonight or Claymore’s Zcash. Depending on the miner, it will drain the victim’s device of its computer processor’s resources or install malicious file folders that are difficult to find.
The most threatening part of WebCobra malware is that it can be very difficult to detect. Often times, the only sign of its presence is decreased computer performance. Plus, when the dropper is scanning the victim’s device, it will also check for security products running on the system. Many security products use APIs, or application programming interfaces, to monitor malware behavior – and WebCobra is able to overwrite some. This means it can essentially unhook the API and disrupt the system’s communication methods, and therefore remain undetected for a long time.
While cryptocurrency mining can be a harmless hobby, users should be cautious of criminal miners with poor intentions. So, what can you do to prevent WebCobra from slithering onto your system? Check out the following tips:
- If your computer slows down, be cautious. It can be hard to determine if your device is being used for a cryptojacking campaign. One way you can identify the attack – poor performance. If your device is slow or acting strange, start investigating and see if your device may be infected with malware.
- Use a comprehensive security solution. Having your device infected with malware will not only slow down its performance but could potentially lead to exposed data. To secure your device and help keep your system running smoothly and safely, use a program like McAfee Total Protection. McAfee products are confirmed to detect WebCobra.
And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.