A virus spreading across Facebook Messenger is responsible for turning computers into cryptocurrency miners, according to security experts.
The malware, known as ‘Digmine’, infects the computer through the desktop Facebook Messenger on Google Chrome.
It hijacks the app, sending links to an account’s friend list, further spreading the virus. It’s then able to use the computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrency, generating coins and confirming digital transactions.
Looking to keep your device secure? Find a top-rated security package in our Best Buy antivirus software packages.
Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin explained
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have been one of the most talked about digital topics in 2017. Launched in 2009, for many years Bitcoin has been mostly used by tech-savvy individuals operating in internet black markets, but it’s now gaining popularity with the general population as an investment opportunity.
The idea behind cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin is simple – it’s a digital currency that can transfer assets directly between accounts, and it operates away from any central bank or government control.
The currency is growing in popularity and credibility. In the UK the first house sale has been approved using Bitcoin, which is the first time the Land Registry has agreed to this. However, the value of Bitcoin has proved to be volatile, with doubts over its long-term potential as a stable investment.
Unlike traditional currency, there is a finite amount of Bitcoin. Only 21m Bitcoins exist in the system and they have to be ‘mined’ by computers, which decode complex problems to get to the currency. This process uses a huge amount of energy and has attracted hackers and criminal gangs, who infect computers to do the mining for them.
Advice from Facebook
Facebook has released a statement on the virus, assuring users that: ‘We maintain a number of automated systems to help stop harmful links and files from appearing on Facebook and in Messenger.
‘If we suspect your computer is infected with malware, we will provide you with a free antivirus scan from our trusted partners.
‘We share tips on how to stay secure and links to these scanners on facebook.com/help.’
As a precaution, it’s recommended that users log out of Facebook on Google Chrome when not using it. Don’t click on links that seem strange, and be highly suspicious of any deals that seem too good to be true, or messages from friends that don’t sound like you would expect them to.
Keeping your computer safe from viruses
Once a virus like this gets hold of your computer, it can be very difficult to get rid of it. The good news, though, is that you can reduce your risk of getting the malware in the first place.
We’ve recently tested antivirus packages and you can take a look at our full antivirus package reviews to discover what’s available to help to protect your computer.
We also have an interactive choosing tool to show you the difference between paid, free and built-in systems, so you can decide whether it’s worth investing in malware protection for your laptop or desktop computer.
Additionally, there’s specific advice for Windows and Mac users, so you can assess whether you need further software. Head to our how to choose the best antivirus software page to find out more.