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Rise in Cryptojacking Threats: Industry Experts, SC Lawyer Tell News18 What India Needs

By: Bhaswati Guha Majumder

News18.com

Last Updated: August 26, 2022, 18:58 IST

New Delhi, India

Cryptojacking is difficult to detect, and most victims are unaware that their computers have been hijacked.

Cryptojacking is difficult to detect, and most victims are unaware that their computers have been hijacked.

Microsoft's Security Endpoint Threat Report 2019 stated that crypto mining malware assaults affect web users in India at a rate that is 4.6 times greater than the regional and worldwide average.

Cryptojacking is the act of mining cryptocurrencies using another person’s computer, smartphone, or other electronic devices. It is often accomplished by gaining unauthorised access to the host’s computer, using its resources to mine cryptocurrencies without the host’s knowledge and such cases are increasing worldwide as per the reports.

A cybersecurity firm SonicWall recently released a report according to which the number of “cryptojacking" cases across the financial sector has risen by 269% in the first half of 2022.

It is noteworthy that this usually happens when the victim unintentionally installs a programme containing malicious scripts that allow the cybercriminal to access their computer or other internet-connected devices, such as by clicking on an unfamiliar link in an e-mail or visiting an infected website.

As per Interpol’s findings, programmes called ‘coin miners’ are used by the cybercriminal to create, or ‘mine’, cryptocurrencies.

Cryptojacking is difficult to detect, and most victims are unaware that their computers have been hijacked. But there are some signs which could indicate that someone has become a victim of such a crime.

These are:

• A notable decrease in device performance.

• Battery overheating on devices.

• Devices that shut down owing to a shortage of processing power.

• Decrease in the productivity of your device or router.

• Unexpected hikes in electricity costs.

Cryptojacking and India

There is no doubt that along with the popularity of cryptocurrency in India, several issues including “cryptojacking”, which is also called cryptocurrency mining attacks, are raising concerns.

For example, Security Endpoint Threat Report 2019 by the tech giant Microsoft stated that crypto mining malware assaults affect web users in India at a rate that is 4.6 times greater than the regional and worldwide average.

In the Asia Pacific region, India has the second-highest number of bitcoin mining assaults, after only Sri Lanka, according to the report.

Considering the threats that come with cryptocurrency’s popularity, on many occasions, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has expressed concern about such virtual currencies, which are considered highly speculative assets. Even RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das has described cryptocurrencies as a “clear danger”.

News18 has reached out to some crypto industry experts to understand their perspective on such crimes and what they think about the idea of banning cryptocurrency in India.

In response, Vineet Budki, Managing Partner and CEO, Cypher Capital, said: “There are always security issues with any new technology. This doesn’t justify a complete ban.”

He believes that investing in companies or projects that are working on answers to such problems is the greatest approach to overcome such challenges.

“Security and security infrastructure have been a focus area for us at Cypher Capital and we recently invested in a company trying to solve the security issues with NFTs through analytics. Smart people are working on the cryptojacking problem at this very moment,” he added.

Another industry expert, Vikram R Singh, Founder and CEO of Antier, stated that the issue is not the presence of virtual currency, but rather occurrences of cryptojacking and other related frauds.

He said: “A restriction on these currencies may appear to eliminate the underlying problem, but it would put a stop to the seemingly boundless market for virtual currency.”

Singh believes that such issues can be reduced with increased awareness and regularisation at all levels.

According to him, businesses can guard against such dangers by implementing security measures and keeping blockchain records, as well as to avoid data leaks, users can enable two-factor authentication on all wallets.

Singh said: “Such measures with a mix of government structuring will diminish the risk of cyber crimes involving virtual currencies."

However, in terms of cryptojacking, News18 also spoke to Dr Pavan Duggal, a Supreme Court lawyer and a well-known cyber expert.

He believes that India needs to come up with effective legal frameworks to deal with such kinds of emerging cybercrimes.

“The Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 in its current form is not adequate to deal with such newly emerging offences like cryptojacking. Even the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is not completely applicable in the context of cryptojacking,” said Dr Duggal, who is also the Chairman of the International Commission on Cyber Security Law.

While talking to News18, he said that these newly emergent cybercrimes, notably those referred to as AI crimes, must be expressly incorporated and covered under the provisions of the IT Act of 2000. He suggested that these crimes must be made punishable by harsh imprisonment, as well as penalties and must be effectively applied.

Additionally, Dr Duggal said: “India needs to create more capacity building amongst the law enforcement agencies to come up with the latest tools to deal with newly emerging crimes such as cryptojacking and awareness needs to be created amongst crypto stakeholders that they need to be aware of crypto crimes and cryptojacking and exercise due diligence.”

According to him, the stakeholders in the crypto ecosystem must also be educated on the most recent techniques for detecting, investigating, and prosecuting such rising new crimes.

Furthermore, he suggested: “There needs to be adequate training at the judiciary level, including judicial officers from the lower courts straight up to the Supreme Court and even other officers of the courts like readers, to sensitize the whole judiciary about these newly emerging crimes like cryptojacking.”

“Holistic contribution by all stakeholders shall be crucial while moving forward,” stated Dr Duggal.​

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first published:August 26, 2022, 18:52 IST
last updated:August 26, 2022, 18:58 IST