A new computer virus which infects Apple Mac OS computers and hijacks their processing power to mine the Monero cryptocurrency has been discovered by Malwarebytes Labs.
This is the latest in a series of cryptocurrency miner viruses that have been infecting Mac OS computers including Pwnet, CpuMeaner, and CreativeUpdate. These viruses slow down computers since they use up a lot of processing power and they cause the computer to consume much more electricity than normal, affecting processor lifespan.
Additionally, computers tend to get quite hot when using all of their processing power to mine cryptocurrency, causing the fan to blow at full power all the time as it struggles to keep computers cool enough to operate. Sustained overheating can damage computers.
Indeed, the new virus which mines Monero was discovered because users noticed their computer fans whirring abnormally due to an open process called mshelper which was found to consume all processing power. Mshelper is based off the open-source Monero mining software XMRig. Essentially, this software cryptographically hashes transactions and organizes them into blocks to maintain and secure the Monero network.
There have been many instances of viruses hijacking computers to mine cryptocurrency. A famous example was the Smominru botnet which infected 526,000 computers at its peak and generated millions of USD worth of Monero.
Monero is popular for the stealthy features of its CryptoNote protocol. With Monero, other than the sender and receiver, it is virtually impossible for anyone else to know the destination address for a transaction, unlike Bitcoin which has a public ledger that makes tracing transactions simple. This makes Monero ideal for illegal cryptocurrency mining programs like mshelper and the Smominru botnet, since the illegal proceeds generated from them are extremely difficult to trace.
It is important to run regular virus scans with trustworthy software since that will identify and remove these sort of viruses if they are known. Of course, sometimes viruses are brand new and not even known by anti-virus software developers, so it is important to also keep an eye on the processes running on computers.
Users are recommended to research processes that use high amounts of processing power. If the process cannot be identified, is non-essential and was not intentionally downloaded, it is likely to be malicious software.
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