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Why do security professionals consider bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining a potential for 'parasitic' hacker activity?

By Justin Stoltzfus | Last updated: January 14, 2022

There are a few predominant reasons why experts in cybersecurity will talk about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining being linked to various kinds of computing power and energy theft.

One of them is the issue of energy scarcity attached to the practice of cryptocurrency mining. Another way to put that is that cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of computing power, and is generally not a green type of project. Because these projects require so much energy in the form of CPU operations, it provides a powerful incentive for hackers to outsource the energy supply that's needed. (Read also: Energy (In)efficiency in Bitcoin Mining Operations.)

Another driver of parasitic digital activity linked to cryptocurrency mining is the ease of injecting malware or using cyberattacks to get access to user devices and networks, in order to quietly run these operations in the background

This type of theft is so commonplace that the technology world has come up with two separate terms for it – “cryptojacking” and “coinjacking.” You'll usually see this type of practice talked about as cryptojacking, but coinjacking is also a term that was created to describe the illicit use of computing power and energy by nefarious cryptocurrency miners.

Yet another major reason for the prominence of cryptojacking or coinjacking has to do with trends toward a decentralized finance world and a decentralized Internet, and peer-to-peer (P2P) networking.

As major players move toward operating new peer-to-peer and decentralized finance systems, different kinds of cryptojacking will become easier. (Read also: Hacking Cryptocurrencies)

All of these issues have an impact on how often Bitcoin miners target other people's devices and networks, in order to steal the computing power with which they mine their digital assets. Some analysts estimate, for example, that cryptojacking affects 25% of all businesses, and accounts for up to 70% of all mining activity. As the population and market volume of the cryptocurrency sector grows, these other numbers are likely to grow as well.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus | Contributor, Reviewer

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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.

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