‘Hackers burned my hand with computer virus’

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Yosof Badr

Bullets rained down from all angles but Abdelrhman Badr kept calm.

Suddenly an enemy burst through a window. Abdelrhman swung round to face the soldier and save his team. He lined up his sights for a fatal shot and squeezed the trigger but… his screen went black.

His computer had silently and suddenly shut itself down without warning.

Abdelrhman was confused. The game he was playing had never caused problems before.

He reached down and looked inside his computer, which he liked to leave open and on display in his bedroom.

Instinctively he touched one of the components, cursed and pulled his hand back. The graphics card was so hot it had burned his fingers.

The 18-year-old from Sheffield hadn’t realised it yet, but this minor injury was caused by crypto-jacking.

Crypto-jacking is the unauthorised and illegal use of someone’s computer to collect Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies.

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Getty/ South_agency

Image caption

Legitimate crypto-currency miners use powerful computers to collect the digital money

There are estimated to be more than 47 million crypto-currency users around the world, although it is difficult to be sure because of their anonymity. Users collect virtual coins by a complex process called “mining” which puts computers through a series of mathematical problems.

In a crypto-jacking operation, hackers fool victims into downloading a malicious file that surreptitiously forces their computers to mine for this money and send it back to the criminals who can spend it on crypto-currency marketplaces or turn it into mainstream cash.

Crypto-jacking attacks increase a victim’s…

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