Distributed computing on end-user devices has been around since SETI@home came out in the 1990s to advance scientific computing.
Some modern attacks have used a similar concept to mine cryptocurrency. This has given rise to a new threat known as cryptojacking.
Crypto mining -- or mining -- is when an endpoint runs an algorithm to compute new hashes for cryptocurrency -- new hashes are needed for cryptocurrencies to expand. While bitcoin is the most common cryptocurrency, and miners use hashes to get it, the jacking part of cryptojacking refers to clickjacking and drive by downloads where a web browser gets infected or takes a specific action when visiting a website.
It appears that some compromised websites even enlist unknowing site users to mine for the attacker.
How to protect endpoints from cryptojacking
Enterprises may want to investigate if their endpoint management tool can manage the configuration settings of one of these tools when investigating potential options to block cryptojacking. Enterprises that monitor endpoint CPU usage may also want to investigate when a system runs a CPU at 100% for an extended period.
As endpoints get more secure, attackers are targeting humans and abusing legitimate functionality on systems for their own gain. There will always be browser exploits that run malicious code on the endpoint, and being prepared for more serious attacks is necessary in order to protect your enterprise.
Since many of the protections have not changed for several years, they should be frequently reevaluated and incorporated into your enterprise security program.