Cryptojacking is a threat that embeds itself into a computer or mobile device and then uses its resources to mine for cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is digital or virtual money, which takes the form of tokens or “coins”. The best known is Bitcoin, but there are around 3,000 other forms of cryptocurrency and although some cryptocurrencies have ventured into the physical world through credit cards or other projects, most remain virtual.
Cryptocurrencies use a distributed database, known as a “blockchain” to operate. The blockchain is regularly updated with information on all transactions that have taken place since the last update. Each set of recent transactions is combined into a “block” using a complex mathematical process.
To produce new blocks, cryptocurrencies rely on individuals to provide the computing power. Cryptocurrencies reward people who provide computing power with cryptocurrency. Those who exchange computer resources for money are called “miners”.
The largest cryptocurrencies use teams of miners running dedicated computing platforms to perform the necessary mathematical calculations. This activity requires a significant amount of electricity – for example, the Bitcoin network currently consumes more than 73 TWh of energy per year.