How to Tell If You Have a Bitcoin Miner Virus

Let’s look at how the virus works and how we can identify and remove it.

A bitcoin virus eating a bitcoin whilst floating in space surrounded by other Bitcoins.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • Bitcoin Miner Virus is a general name for malware that steals a computer’s resources to generate cryptocurrency.
  • This dangerous crypto mining malware mostly infects through downloads and browser-based attacks.
  • Slow performance, lagging, and overheating are warning signs of mining malware infection.

As Bitcoin (BTC) grows, its mining will also rise. But as legal mining increases, so does the illegal. As a result, we may become a victim of crypto mining cybercrime.

Malicious cryptocurrency mining, or cryptojacking, is a growing threat to businesses and users. The unauthorized malware exploits computers or mobile devices to mine digital currencies, and the victims do not even notice it.

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So, how to tell if you have a Bitcoin Miner virus? Let’s look at how the virus works and how we can identify and remove it.

What Is a Bitcoin Miner Virus?

BitCoin Miner is a generic name for various cryptocurrency-mining viruses. At first glance, the name suggests that these viruses mine only Bitcoin. However, cybercriminals also attempt to mine other cryptocurrencies, such as Monero, Ethereum, etc.

Whatever you call it, it is the same form of cybercrime when fraudsters infect vulnerable computers with malware to steal processing power for illegal crypto mining.

Cybercriminals behind crypto mining viruses act with the purpose of profit. Mining lucrative cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin requires powerful and expensive ASIC mining hardware to become profitable. But as long as cryptocurrencies can be mined with processors (CPU) and graphics cards (GPU), the fraudsters utilize them as a cheap alternative. They simply target computing resources and steal power from thousands of unsuspecting users.

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The principle here is simple. When a certain device is infected with cryptojacking malware, it gets added to a pool to work on the task. In the meantime, fraudsters earn profit with almost no costs to themselves.

Who Is at Risk of Bitcoin Miner Viruses?

Despite what you might think, Bitcoin miner viruses don’t target Bitcoin mining operations or discriminate based on what operating system or hardware you use. Whether you’re an Apple Mac fan or a staunch Microsoft Windows or Linux maxi, you’re just as likely to be a cryptojacking target.

Cryptojacking Attack Volume Hits New All-Time Highs, Again

Crypto prices aren’t the only figures heading to all-time highs. Cryptojacking volumes continue to skyrocket, boasting year-on-year growth and proving the practice as one of the most dangerous cybersecurity threats within the industry.

cryptojacking volume statistics
Source: SonicWall

According to data from SonicWall’s 2024 Cyberthreat Report, the figures paint a frightening picture. Cryptojacking attack volumes were already growing exponentially, but the second half of 2023 blew away the old records. November and December were particularly dire, witnessing more cryptojacking attacks than the entirety of 2022.

These figures are even more alarming because, by June of 2023, we had already witnessed more cryptojacking hits than the previous three years combined. 

While cryptojacking hits are up globally, some nations have fared better than others. Asia and Pacific regions were up a modest 87% on global hits, while Latin American countries picked up an additional 116% on the previous year.

These statistics might seem alarming, but they pale compared to the frequency of attacks witnessed in North America and Europe. North America recorded 596% in cryptojacking hits, with Europe suffering a staggering 1,046% boost.

SonicWall theorizes that this increase reflects not only a growing number of cryptocurrency miners but is also due to cybercriminals moving away from alternative hijacking methods like phishing scams and ransomware. 

How Does the Virus Spread?

Cryptojacking attacks are one of the most common cybersecurity threats. Crypto mining malware can be written in different programming languages and easily infect devices in multiple ways: from downloads to browsing on the compromised website. Bitcoin Miner virus can even be embedded in Trojan Horse viruses.

However, the most used methods are the following:

  • Drive-by-download attacks. A popular form of cryptojacking involves social engineering attacks. Victims are tricked into downloading legitimate-looking files that are infected with hidden malware. Such viruses can be plugged into online ads, email attachments, various plugins, and Chrome extensions. Some Bitcoin miner viruses are also downloaded via free-of-charge executable software.
  • Browser-based attacks. The attack is implemented by putting malicious crypto-mining code into a webpage. The code automatically runs whenever the victims open their browsers and visit a particular website. In this case, the victim’s computer stores no malware, but its resources are still exploited when opening an infected website.

How Does Bitcoin Miner Malware Affect Devices?

As you may know, cryptocurrency mining requires vast computing power. It is necessary to solve mathematical puzzles and confirm new crypto transaction blocks.

Bitcoin Miner viruses make computers work at full capacity, slowing down their performance. Devices load slowly and lag even in dealing with simple tasks. The continuous performance in such conditions wears out the device over time and even boosts your electricity bills.

Simultaneously working at full capacity increases the risk of overheating, which leads to a reduced lifetime of the processor, graphics cards, and memory.

How to Tell If You Have a Bitcoin Miner Virus

Crypto mining malware might be difficult to detect for those with poor skills in IT or cybersecurity. However, there are general indicators of how to tell if you have a Bitcoin Miner virus.

If your laptop or computer has started to act strangely, its performance has slowed, or dozens of spam pop-ups appear on your screen, a virus may be at work. You should know how to identify the warning signals and how to inspect them.

The common symptoms alarming the possible crypto-mining malware infection threat are the following:

  • High CPU usage.
  • Slow performance, lagging.
  • Overheating.
  • Increased internet traffic.

After you have identified the concerning signals, it’s worth running a manual inspection to verify them. However, not all of these signals can be checked by yourself and will require antivirus software and a more professional approach.

Nevertheless, here are the steps to check for crypto mining viruses on your PC or mobile device.

How to Check If You Have Been Cryptojacked

Check the CPU Temperature

A device runs at full capacity when mining a cryptocurrency. This leads to possible overheating, and the increased CPU temperature is a good indicator.

The infected PC works slower and louder because Bitcoin miner viruses drain computer performance. If you witness the same behavior on your computer, check its CPU temperature. Here is how you can do this on the Windows operating system:

  1. Open the Task Manager (press ctrl +shift +esc).
  2. Click on the Performance tab.
  3. Check up on the utilization of the CPU. A percentage above 80%-90% when no other programs are running indicates a serious danger of infection.
CPU usage displayed on Windows Task Manager.

Devices running on macOS are vulnerable as well. If you’re using macOS, complete the following steps to check the temperature:

  1. Open Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.
  2. Check the CPU tab.
CPU usage displayed on Macbook Activity Monitor.

The healthy temperature for your CPU should be from 45°C to 65°C. If the number is above the specified level, there might be a risk of malware infection.

Another comprehensive way to track CPU temperature and other important metrics on your macOS device is by installing a dedicated app like iStat, System Monitor, or Monit.

Check the Network Usage

While dozens of programs are running on the computer, there is a chance that any of them can be accessing the internet without you even knowing about it.

Media streaming lags in online gaming sessions or other noticeably slowed-down online activities indicate something is wrong unless there are problems with the network connection. However, in many cases, the unusually high network traffic on your PC or mobile device hints at a malware infection.

Monitoring all the internet traffic on your devices is important, although it usually requires special network monitoring software like SolarWinds, DataDog, or Azure Network Watcher for comprehensive insights into your PC performance.

But before purchasing one, you can quickly run your own inspections. Here is how to check network usage on Windows 10:

  1. Open Task Manager > App history.
  2. Check up the Network section.
App history displayed on Windows Task Manager.

This way, you can check which applications have been using the network since the last monitoring was done. However, Task Manager only allows tracking the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) applications, which does not include desktop apps.

To monitor the network usage on desktop applications, complete the following steps:

  1. Open Settings > Network & Internet> Data usage.
  2. Click on View usage per app to check network usage on each application.
Network usage on each application in Windows.

MacOS users can monitor the network usage on their computers by following the instructions below:

  1. Open Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor.
  2. Choose the Network section.
  3. Click on Sent Bytes. The list will rank apps from highest to lowest to see which applications use the network.

Install Anti-Crypto Mining Browser Extensions

Another form of cryptojacking attack is browser-based mining malware. It injects a malicious script into websites or on malicious ads that are placed across multiple web pages.

The script activates anytime the victim opens the infected site or the ads pop up in the browser. In the meantime, the user whose device is mining digital coins and sending them to the hacker’s server has no idea what’s going on.

The only way to protect from browser-based miner malware is to install cryptojacking blockers. The browser extensions like NoCoin, MinerBlock, or Malwarebytes block crypto coin miners from using the computer’s processing power.

How to Remove a Bitcoin Miner Virus

Illegal cryptocurrency mining is cybercrime and could be fought with by familiar means like various antivirus programs or complex manual removal. However, Bitcoin Miner Virus is a fileless malware. This means it does not leave traces and is especially difficult to detect.

Manual malware removal of the Bitcoin Miner Virus requires in-depth technical knowledge and is a far more sophisticated process than simply deleting the infected files. The process involves engaging with sensitive registry entries where the incorrect approach could cause irreparable damage, and the device can no longer function.

An efficient anti-malware software would be a much better option. Remember that not all traditional antivirus software options can identify and remove Bitcoin Miner Virus.

Remember that not all antivirus software options can identify and remove the Bitcoin Miner virus. This malware is fileless and programs that seek for malware based on the definitions of a virus can not detect it. To eliminate crypto-mining malware, scan your computer with legitimate security software like Comodo Antivirus, SpyHunter, or Malwarebytes, which removes all types of malware.

How to Prevent a Bitcoin Miner Virus

Cryptojacking attacks are a serious threat, especially when digital currencies are on a long-term uptrend. Installing security software can help to eliminate the risk of being exploited, but remaining cautious and self-aware is not less important.

There are still ways to tell if you have a Bitcoin Miner virus. Keep track of your device performance and inspect the warning signals. Accordingly, update your device regularly, avoid suspicious websites, email attachments, and links, use pop-up blockers, or install anti-crypto mining browser extensions for even higher protection levels.

On the Flipside

  • As you can probably imagine, there’s no flipside argument to support cryptojacking. No good can come of Bitcoin miner viruses unless you yourself are a cybercriminal.

Why This Matters

Bitcoin miner viruses and cryptojacking are more popular than ever and are expected to grow more and more common in the coming years. Learning how to recognize and eradicate these viruses is important for anyone who wants to ensure their computer’s and cybersecurity’s ongoing health.

FAQs

What does Bitcoin Miner malware do?

Bitcoin miner malware, also known as Bitcoin miner viruses or cryptojacking, drains your computer’s performance to boost illegal crypto mining operations.

How do I know if I have a virus?

If your computer is frequently lagging, overheating, or suffering general performance issues, it might be infected with a virus.

How do I get rid of a virus?

One of the best ways to eliminate viruses and other cryptojacking malware is to use anti-malware software. Popular examples of reliable anti-malware software include Comodo Antivirus, Spyhunter, and MalwareBytes.

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Author
Simona Ram

Simona Ram is a senior journalist at DailyCoin, based in Lithuania, who covers the forces and people shaping the Web3 industry and the areas where decentralized crypto assets meet the centralized world. She has experience in business communication within the financial sphere and has a degree in Foreign Languages, which helps her interact effectively with sources from diverse backgrounds. In her free time, Simona enjoys exploring new cultures.