Covid-19 has led to a surge in cryptocurrency trading according to Zipmex co-founder Marcus Lim. Lim puts this new interest in virtual currency investments down to worldwide job loss, lockdown and travel restrictions.
A lot of people have turned to cryptocurrency as an alternative way to make money says Lim. The only problem is that more and more people who invest in cryptocurrency are not 100% sure of how it actually works. This inexperience combined with more time spent at home on personal computers, has led to a significant increase in cryptojacking.
The basics of cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency or digital asset. As it is secured by cryptography, it is almost impossible to counterfeit or double spend.
There are many different types of cryptocurrency, the most famous of which is Bitcoin. Others include Facebook’s Libra, Litecoin, Ripple and Tether.
Most are decentralised networks based on blockchain technology and if you’re wondering what that is, it’s a digital ledger of transactions, distributed across a disparate network of computers.
What is cryptojacking?
To understand cryptojacking, you first have to know how cryptocurrency mining works.
Unlike mining for gold with a pickaxe, this type of mining involves high-powered computers solving complex algorithms. Cryptojacking is when a cyber hacker takes control of your computer to mine for cryptocurrency without your consent.
Mining for cryptocurrencies can be a long and costly affair, involving a lot of electricity and pricey computer hardware, not to mention the time it takes. So you can see why cryptojacking is enticing to a lot of cybercriminals.
How can you prevent cryptojacking?
Similar to how computer viruses are commonly spread, Lim says cryptojackers will often send a phishing email with a link to cryptocurrency miners. If clicked on, the link will then download a script onto the computer and mine for cryptocurrency in the background.
If this happens the cryptojacker is basically using your computer power and internet server to mine for more cryptocurrency.
Besides, being careful of what you click in your inbox, Lim says his advice would be to stick with a regulated digital asset exchange service. Zipmex is one of a number of virtual currency exchange services regulated by AUSTRAC. The government agency responsible for regulating the financial system and protecting it from organised crime.
Education is key
Finally, Lim says part of the reason for the notable increase in cryptojacking during the pandemic is a lack of knowledge from new crypto investors. A 2019 report from ING revealed that a large number of people still do not fully understand what cryptocurrencies are.
So however tempting it might be to try and make a quick buck off crypto investing, it goes without saying that doing your research and educating yourself on cryptocurrency is key.
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