“While some cry, others are getting money with tissues”.
This philosophical quote is from a great thinker and business expert called: my dad.
Despite my joking, this sentence has been on my mind a lot lately, especially during these difficult times. While I don’t have the numbers, I’m pretty sure the mask and hand sanitizer industries are extremely happy right now.
There are even those people who like to surf the waves of tendencies and hype even if their businesses are not directly involved with the new trend.
That being said, let’s take our favorite subjects: blockchain and crypto.
The audience only grows wider while people find out more about the benefits of an intermediary-free system that is also safe and fast. Also, the hype gets stronger once celebrities and global events are being sponsored by or even investing in those new technologies.
It’s getting bigger and the profits are going higher. So, of course, some companies would also like to surf the wave and take a bite of the brand new shining cake.
Some of them might really fit into the new reality. Some of them bring more confusion and doubt about their own intentions.
The downside of knowing how the sausage is made
Blockchain is still something new – we know that.
And its mechanisms and engines are being dissected to audiences that never had to think about ‘how the sausage was made and only ate them.
In order to bring a safe and transparent feeling to future users, blockchain veterans always like to explain how it works, who is involved in the process, what happens when a transaction is authorized, and so on.
However, this can be scary to a lot of people because most of us are not used to observing this kind of technicality. Concepts that once were only part of a developer/programmer’s life now are becoming the reality of Average Joes and Marys all around.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a total Average Mary when it comes to some concepts of blockchain, parachain, crypto, etc.
And I don’t see the fact that we are all learning more about those concepts as a bad thing. I just think it can be very scary and sometimes overwhelming.
That’s why we, at Klever, believe in education. For us, it’s the best way to be acquainted with some ideas and structures in a healthy way.
New world, new threats
As the scenario is filled with information, one question that beginners always ask themselves is about safety on the blockchain.
“How is it safe? How can I protect myself? If it’s ‘open’ does that mean that anyone can access my info? Can hackers steal crypto from me?”
Relax, I know there can be relevant questions about this whole thing.
Right now, we will focus on the ‘hacking’ situation. Yes, it does exist. Yes, it is a reality. However, maybe not like you think.
Since the major audience doesn’t know the answer to those questions, the market finds a way to adapt and bring you the solution for things you didn’t even know were possible.
Even for me, as I was researching on the web to bring content for this article, the main results that popped up regarding hackers and scams on crypto were related to antivirus/antimalware companies.
So, now it won’t be rare to find your Antivirus system next door trying to promote protection against crypto hackers that try to mine with your computer. And to help you with that, they are also promoting their own mining features.
And that’s why you gotta be careful.
I’m not saying those don’t work (I didn’t even try them). I’m just saying that we should always pay attention to new market offers from people that weren’t even experts on the matter.
Of course, you can say “well, they are experts on safety”.
However, that’s not how it works exactly. Let’s dive in a little more about safety on the blockchain.
Mining has always been a dangerous job
We all know the general explanation of how blockchain works, right?
A digital ledger that registers authorizes and makes transactions between different servers with a seamless, intermediary-free, open and borderless network system.
We also know that blockchain is extremely hard to tamper with because of its consensus algorithms responsible for validating transactions through nodes and because of the coding system which encrypts all the data inside the blocks.
It is only possible to alter something in a blockchain network such as Bitcoin, for instance, if 51% of the miners agree to mess with the info on the blocks because all of them are connected to each other making it so that a block can only exist with the data of the previous one.
For that reason, we could say that the most “dangerous” role and aim of those attacks should be miners and their mining system.
If a hacker passes as a miner he can use your computer as a source to mine crypto without your consent.
Furthermore, he can even access your information and charge you for the rescue of the data.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is called Ransomware.
According to our beloved Wikipedia, “Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim’s personal data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid”.
Therefore, Ransomware seems to pose as one of the biggest threats to crypto enthusiasts.
Alongside that, there’s also “cryptojacking” which consists of hackers injecting a code into the victim’s computer so they can use the CPU for mining.
An article was published on The Guardian website a while ago talking about Antivirus Norton’s new move to allow users to mine crypto through their own system so they would be safe from the get-go once they decided to start crypto mining.
Norton announced to the English website that:
“For years, many coin miners have had to take risks in their quest for cryptocurrency, disabling their security in order to run coinmining and allowing unvetted code on their machines that could be skimming from their earnings or even planting ransomware. Earnings are commonly stored directly on miners’ hard drives, where their digital wallet could be lost should it fail.”
However, Norton’s move was seen with some suspicion from the crypto community as we all know that in order to mine crypto nowadays you should have a very powerful computer system and it also takes a lot of energy only to mine a few blocks.
Imagine the power these days to mine a significant amount of crypto!
So, no, it wouldn’t be that easy to mine with Norton or without it. And we’re not even mentioning law and taxes matters that can vary according to each country. As The Guardian’s article says: sometimes it’s not even worth the paperwork.
‘Houston, we still have a problem’
However, the threat continues to exist.
Recently, about two months ago, the same news website reported a warning from Google which reported that cryptocurrency miners were using hacked cloud accounts.
In Google’s report, the company stated that “86% of the compromised Google Cloud instances were used to perform cryptocurrency mining, a cloud resource-intensive for-profit activity”.
The article also highlights that “in the majority of cases the cryptocurrency mining software was downloaded within 22 seconds of the account being compromised. Google said that in three-quarters of the cloud hacks the attackers had taken advantage of poor customer security or vulnerable third-party software.”
So, yes, the threats are real – and we are not even mentioning scams (you can read our article about scams and how to prevent them here).
But how do you prevent them?
First of all, let’s take Google’s advice for the Cloud’s problem: use the two-factor authentication and try to sign up to the company’s work safer security program.
Patching your software, implementing zero-day preventions, and other deeper solutions are also mentioned on the internet.
However, let’s not forget that Antivirus can also be good. What we are questioning here is this new segment of crypto mining in their own systems – we are not talking about Antivirus abilities to prevent hacking (some people might question them, but it’s not our goal).
So, yes, good Antivirus may help and you can do your research using terms such as “protect cryptojacking” to find out what those companies are offering in this matter.
The point is: understanding crypto and blockchain is already challenging.
To be a part of it as a miner can be even trickier – to not say almost “impossible” to make a good profit from it by yourself.
So, whatever endeavor you want to embroil in this new universe, just be aware of the risks and the tools that can actually help you in that path.
Research, learn, and read to be more aware of what you’re doing.
At the end of the day, the best Antivirus is you.