New Cybercrime: What Is 'Cryptojacking'?

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on March 05, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Advances in technology have made life easier and allowed people to be more connected. Unfortunately, technological advances also open a new avenue for crimes. Generally referred to as cybercrimes, these types of crimes are committed online or with the help of computer networking technology.

A common example of a cybercrime is identity theft, where hackers access a computer to seek out personal information that can then be used to steal the person's identity or access bank accounts. Generally when a computer is hacked, the first thought is that hackers are looking for personal information. But, now there is another reason for hacking a computer: cryptojacking. This new cybercrime hijacks computers to produce digital currency.

How Does Cryptojacking Work?

In this new type of cybercrime, an infected network or computer conducts its normal functions, but also follows commands from a remote source to perform calculations that generate digital currency. While the earnings from a hijacked computer are usually marginal, it's a volume business, meaning that marginal earnings from multiple computers could be substantial.

According to an article in the Seattle Times, Palo Alto Networks has estimated that "at least 15 million computers had been conscripted into crypto-mining operations worldwide, most heavily in Asia." In a cryptojacking instance closer to home, apparently up to 24,000 patients at a hospital in Parsons, Tennessee were affected by a server that had been compromised.

The patients were notified that "unauthorized software was installed to generate digital currency," but that there was no indication that the hackers were looking for patient data.

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