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Cryptocurrencies give rise to a new kind of hacking threat

Joe Mont | March 6, 2018

There are myriad concerns that go hand-in-hand with crypto-currencies, including fraud, money laundering, and the marketplace tensions still shaking out winners and laggards.

Add another growing concern to the list: system intruders who hijack your organization’s computing power in their quest to mine virtual coins. Experts are calling the practice “drive-by hacking” and “crypto-jacking.” The end-result could leave companies with crippled, slow, or damaged data systems.

The backbone of virtual currencies, best known for Bitcoin, is a network of code-crunchers racing to solve the complex algorithms and math puzzles that reward their time, effort, and computer power with newly minted coins. That unique alternative to how central banks issue fiat currency is a primary appeal of crypto-currencies.

That central appeal is also causing headaches. “Miners”—those who run computers dedicated to processing the blockchain transactions that slowly build up the credits with...

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