Gaming PCs are being targeted by hackers using crypto miners

As a gamer, there are some behaviors that you should never engage in if you want to keep your device safe from harmful applications. As with downloading games from unknown sources, caution should be used while downloading free games through torrents or other sites. Recent revelations about hackers targeting gamers serve as a sobering reminder of how malware infects a machine.

According to a recent study, a crypto miner is collecting computer power and disseminating it through downloaded games. The malware dubbed “Crackonosh” seems to deactivate device security features such as anti-virus protection to escape detection and continue operating normally.

What is a cryptominer?

Mining is a word that refers to the process of creating cryptocurrency. The different cryptocurrencies in use today are all built on blockchain technology. The “coins” are created when difficult mathematical problems are solved to validate and add a block to the blockchain.

Due to the complexity of mathematics, it needs a high level of computing ability to complete the task. Additionally, the difficulty of creating new coins grows with time, perhaps necessitating the use of more specialized technology.

At Bitcoin’s peak, investors from all over the globe flocked to the fast-increasing value of this cryptocurrency. If you kept 1 BTC at a particular price six years ago, it would be worth almost $40k in 2021. At the time, a coin costing $1000 would have boosted your holding fortyfold. As a result, it should be clear why cryptocurrency mining is so profitable.

So, what is the one thing that miners and gamers have in common? computer graphics card. The hardware is used to power the on-screen video gaming experience and is also very efficient at mining. Rather than purchasing costly graphics cards with increased hash rates and paying exorbitant energy costs, malevolent actors discovered a method to damage the world’s millions of gaming PCs.

Cryptominers are a type of malware that infiltrates a computer’s operating system and utilizes its computational capabilities to mine bitcoin without the user’s knowledge. However, there are certain indicators that your computer has been compromised.

How cracknosh infects gaming computers

The study is the outcome of an investigation conducted by Avast after numerous reports of odd behavior when using the company’s anti-virus software. According to the complaints, Avast’s folder was empty even though the anti-virus was installed. One of the complaints detailed how the customer obtained a few games through torrents for his PC.

Due to its probable Czech background, an in-depth investigation uncovered a crypto-miner dubbed Crackonosh. The virus is delivered through these free games and automatically installs itself when the user unpacks and runs the downloaded files.

It modifies the operating system in numerous ways to guarantee that it will flourish undetected. Bear in mind that the more computer power an individual has, the simpler it is to mine bitcoin. Through the internet, compromised PCs become botnets. The virus includes the infamous cryptocurrency miner XMRig. It creates a startup item in the Windows Registry. This is how the infected PC communicates with other infected PCs located around the world.

It modifies the operating system in numerous ways to guarantee that it will flourish undetected. Bear in mind that the more computer power an individual has, the simpler it is to mine bitcoin. Through this interruption, the infected computers establish a botnet. This is how the infected PC communicates with other infected PCs located around the world.

By draining computer resources, the miner gains control of your game PC’s performance. It has infected over 222,000 machines globally, earning a staggering $2,000,000 in Monero money in the process. What’s more concerning is that this virus has been circulating in the public since 2018.

How to recognize a crypto miner on your computer

After infecting a computer, the malware at issue disables security measures to continue functioning in stealth mode. Certain technically adept individuals are capable of identifying unfamiliar programs running in Task Manager. As a result, the virus conceals itself by masquerading as genuine Windows processes, such as winlogui.exe.

The following are some indicators that your computer is infected:

Slow performance

A mining program’s only goal is to drain computing resources; it forces your CPU and graphics card to operate at maximum capacity even while the computer is idle. Symptoms such as files and applications requiring an excessive amount of time to load, slow graphics performance, and program crashing are all typical in this situation.

Open the Task Manager and check to see if your CPU or GPU is performing optimally. Install third-party applications such as CoreTemp for CPU monitoring and MSI Afterburner for GPU monitoring if you do not have Windows 10 or above.

Installed programs are inoperable

As shown by Crackonosh’s actions, after the malware has taken up space on the machine, it tries to remove any installed anti-virus software, including Windows Defender. If several applications fail to run or generate an error stating that the program’s.exe file could not be located, something is wrong. Unless and until a program is removed, it does not vanish on its own.

Processes that are unknown

While Crackonosh remains undetectable by operating as a legitimate-looking Windows program, other crypto miners may not. Open the Task Manager, go to the Performance tab, and click on the Open Resource Monitor button. Examine the list of mechanisms that are eroding resource availability. You may check the name of the process to see if it is genuine or not.

How to defend against malware

Torrents are a breeding ground for viruses. Due to the ease with which anybody can create an account and submit software or games for others to download, it offers an easy target for attackers. The attraction of free games is shown by the hundreds of individuals seeding and leeching famous titles such as Grand Theft Auto V at any given moment.

Downloading anything from a third-party source, such as torrents, is very hazardous. This is comparable to downloading a malicious email attachment from an unfamiliar source.

Anti-virus software protects your device against attacks. It keeps an eye out for possibly dangerous executables and applications in memory. Maintain an anti-virus program on your device at all times, even if you do not download applications or games via torrents. Not just via downloads, but also through media such as USB drives and other computers on the network, malware may infect your system.

Conclusion

Along with a strong antivirus, ensure that it is kept up-to-date with the newest malware signatures. Data is a valuable asset that may be compromised if a vulnerability exists. When surfing the web through Wi-Fi networks, use a VPN to protect your internet traffic to prevent bad actors from obtaining private information or interfering with your online browsing experience.

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