Artificial Intelligence: Deep Learning AI To Foil Cryptojacking Computer Pirates

As cryptocurrency prices rise, criminals are hijacking research supercomputers for illicit crypto mining.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have devised an AI-based software watchdog that thwarts malicious actors from hijacking computer resources for the illicit mining of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and monero. This criminal activity is known as cryptojacking. (TechXplore)

Mining cryptos requires heavy computer resources

Crypto “miners” mint cryptocurrencies by using computers to solve complex mathematical calculations. If they’re successful, they get rewards of the cryptocurrency in question. The process requires larger resources of computational power as well as electrical energy.

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been in a bullish uptrend recently, making their mining more lucrative by the day. Unsurprisingly, bad actors have emerged to try to reduce their cost of production of cryptocurrencies through theft. This can be of computational power, or energy, or both.

Cryptojacking refers to the criminal use of someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrencies. Instead of laying out money on expensive mining computers, these hackers take over somebody else’s machines through malicious code. Theu then use the the machines to generate crypto coins.

Computers belonging to organizations such as research bodies are generally very high-power machines, evn in the league of supercomputers. They are, therefore, a lucrative target for cryptojacking.

Coin Telegraph said last week that bad actors used a malware botnet known as FritzFrog to deploy XMRig, a Monero mining app, on several higher education institutions in the US and Europe, and a railway company.

Meanwhile, Coin Desk reported that researchers at Mitiga found a monero mining script embedded in a public instance of an Amazon Web Service (AWS) virtual machine.

In an instance of energy theft for crypto mining, two Bulgarian nationals landed in jail for stealing $ 1.5 million in electricity. They were mining bitcoin in the small Bulgarian town of Kyustendil, reported Coin Telegraph.

The AI defense devised by Los Alamos National Laboratory

The AI system developed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers is a defense against cryptojacking of computer resources.

Their system trained on a catalog of graphs that represent the functioning of programs that can run on a computer. Graphs can visually represent all running programs through lines, loops, or jumps. The AI watchdog, therefore, instantly picks up any operation that appears out of the ordinary. Any graph which is dissimilar to the catalog of graphs identifying the programs supposed to be running on the system will be red-flagged by the AI system as a possible cryptojacking.

“Based on recent computer break-ins in Europe and elsewhere, this type of software watchdog will soon be crucial to prevent cryptocurrency miners from hacking into high-performance computing facilities and stealing precious computing resources,” said Gopinath Chennupati, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-author of a new paper in the journal IEEE Access. “Our deep-learning artificial intelligence model is designed to detect the abusive use of supercomputers specifically for the purpose of cryptocurrency mining.”

Related Story:   Ransom Amounts Escalate Into Tens of Millions As Hacks Get Bolder

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