Your browser can be a cryptocurrency miner for cybercriminals. In our time this is not a new direction of Internet fraud. It is called hidden mining. This is the extraction of cryptocurrency using the resources of your personal computer or mobile device.
How does it work
Scammers do not even need to hack your computer or steal software on it. You just visit an infected website, download a file on it and open it. A special program is immediately installed on your computer, which will launch the production of cryptocurrency from your device. It is not possible to detect a hidden component for mining on such a site. It does not even affect performance. But the one who thus stole your device, has from this a good digital profit.
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The first who used this method of mining, were hackers. They bet on the fact that gamers have powerful video cards. This is one of the important aspects for mining. Therefore, in 2014, distributed the game Watch Dogs, which had that same hidden miner.
But the special popularity in the sphere of hidden mining was won by the The Pirate Bay torrent tracker in September 2017. For their scam they used the Coinhive script. Immediately after loading the page, it began mining Monero. A few weeks later, the number of imitators began to grow. By implementing scripts on their resources, they earned money. Users, while visiting such sites, lost 20-30% of their capacity.
Soon, these types of attacks were discovered. Users noticed that the load of their processor increases dramatically after moving to the pages from which the extraction is made. And when production was going through a mobile device, it was noticeable that the battery was very quickly discharged. Finding hidden mining on your computer is not easy.
How to protect yourself
To protect yourself from it, you need to visit only proven sites, use antivirus and ad blockers and periodically check your PC for mining. Also, Chrome has a specially designed No Coin extension. When installed, your computer gets protection from other miners, and blocks Coinhive production. There are also extensions such as NoScript or ScriptBlock. You can also turn off scripts in the browser settings.
Proper protection can be a constructive tool and will complicate the wave of this type of fraud. Coinhive noted that they tested it as a new revenue stream. Some sites have started using a similar method to collect charitable funds. And others - as a potential application or as an alternative to advertising on the Internet, which also have security problems. The profit of hidden miners is strongly due to how long they will manage to stay undetected.
The depth of the problem
This problem has a deeper character among the audience, who does not even suspect that their devices are used without their permission. Such an illegal way of mining is no longer allowed by anti-virus programs, since they are very intrusive and controversial. Coinhive and the same as it, are required to take meaningful measures. It is necessary to limit the number of users, before blocking them with scanner programs, and introduce measures of protection against authentication.
Recently, the miner has caused a lot of controversy. Hidden mining is a good idea and an alternative to advertising revenue. But on the other hand - it does not give the right of consent or refusal. It is simply unknowingly imposed on the device, worsening its work and heavily burdening its system resources.
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After researching these issues, Coinhive introduced its new improved project - AuthedMine. Now the script, before launching, requests the user's agreement before launching the miner. This is a very positive step, but it has some difficulties. All previous scripts, including their original, continue to exist and be used by hackers who will continue to develop this technology. In doing so, they make it difficult to find and detect using antivirus software.
In any case, science and technology do not stand still. Like many other web tools, hidden mining is waiting for promising innovations. Perhaps, soon, this technology will change for the better and it will not be necessary to abuse such methods for extraction of cryptocurrency, evolving into a safer place and will be used on trust. Well, now this type of mining is illegal and is already equated with hacker attacks. And the responsibility for such actions must be controlled in all measures.
Editor: Yuliya Soroka