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What Is Cryptojacking? Is it the future of monetization

09 January 2018 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Alarming

What exactly is cryptojacking?

The best things in life were free until the internet came around. The internet has become the birthplace of a range of monetization techniques that try to squeeze every penny out of its users.

Even if you think you're on a free website you're probably paying for it in other ways. Listen to me when I say, nothing on the internet comes for free. Websites and apps that don’t charge you for their services are often collecting your data or bombarding you with advertising. While other sites have found a new way to make money from you: using your computer to generate virtual currencies.

Yes, that's right your browsing could be generating cryptocurrencies for others without you even knowing about it.

Who makes use of Cryptojacking?

Several video streaming sites and the popular file-sharing network The Pirate Bay have allegedly been “cryptojacking” their users’ computers in this way, as has the free wifi provider in a Starbucks cafe in Argentina. Users may object to this, especially if it slows down their computers. But given how hard it is for most companies to make money from online advertising, it might be something we have to get used to – unless we want to start paying more for things.

Why do sites use Cryptojacking?

Units of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin aren’t created by a central bank like regular money but are generated or “mined” by computers solving complex equations which require a large number of resources. Cryptojacking involves using someone’s computer without their knowledge, perhaps for just seconds at a time, to mine a cryptocurrency.

Mining usually takes the form of a competition. Whichever computer solves the equation the fastest is rewarded with the money. With Moreno and other similar cryptocurrencies, a pool of computers can work together and share the reward if they win the competition. This allows individual computers to work on a just small part of the mining task. The larger the pool, the more chance there is of winning the reward.

How much can you earn using cryptojacking?

When a computer is cryptojacked, it is added to a pool for it to work on the task. This is often done using a commercially available piece of software, such as Coinhive. This means the website or internet provider doing the cryptojacking can mine cryptocurrency with little cost to themselves. One estimate is that 220 of the top 1,000 websites in the world are conducting cryptojacking, making a total of US$43,000 over a three week period.

What happens to the user being cryptojacked?

The computer being crypto jack lends some of its processor power to the mining pool making other operations take much longer. Along with lowering efficiently, the process can be accompanied by a large battery drain.

How does in-browser cryptojacking work?

In-browser cryptojacking uses JavaScript on a web page to mine for cryptocurrencies. When a user visits the webpage along with the page contents additional JavaScript runs while your browser is active. The mining script will then run on every website you visit and doesn’t need to be installed. As the JavaScript code executes it is responsible for in-browser mining and uses your computer's resources to complete hashes for a mining pool.

How Widespread is cryptojacking?

A recent study conducted by independent security researcher Willem de Groot revealed 2,496 individual sites running a crypto-mining script. The sites de Groot found all run outdated software that is easily exploited by hackers. A hacker compromises a site then inserts their dedicated CoinHive code, letting the site and its users do the rest.

As a website owner - How to add Cryptojacking to your site?

There are various cryptojacking platforms available but I will focus on Coinhive one of the most popular platforms currently available. To get started with cryptojacking all you need to do is:

  • Visit the Coinhive site
  • Register with an account
  • Have a Monero wallet on hand
  • Verify your account and add your wallet details
  • Click on the type of cryptojacking script you want to use
  • Then embed that javascript on the desired site

Just like that, you're ready to have your visitors mine Monero for you. Here is an example of what visible miner looks like asking a user for consent

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Cryptojacking tech has various other use cases for websites. For instance, a website can also introduce authentication captchas that use proof of work mining to not only verify that users are human and keep out bots but also earn cryptocurrency in return for authentic users visiting their sites with options like these.

Alternatives to Coinhive include AdlessWebMinePool

Below is an example:

Loading Captcha... If it doesn't load, please disable Adblock!

As a visitor - How to avoid being Cryptojacked?

While CoinHive strongly advises the websites that deploy its javascript to inform users they are being cryptojacked it’s still common for the code to run without users realising and without a way to opt out of it. If you want to prevent your computer from being cryptojacked you need a software tool which checks the code as it runs such as an ad-blocker. If you've already decided that you don't ever want websites to use your CPU, you can download the browser plugin called No Coin which stops any attempts to access your CPU for mining.

Since cryptojacking has gained popularity it has been flagged by malware prevention providers and most ad blockers will already stop these miners from working in the first place, but No Coin can give you a little extra peace of mind.

Why cryptojacking could be the future of monetization

If you're like me you're clearly no fan of ads and would easily opt for an alternative that reduces or removes the number of ads get served. Instead of just hijacking users, browsers sites could ask users if they would like the ad targetted or ad-free experience. By allowing a user to make the distinction and opt-in for a little bit of your computer’s processing power can be a better alternative to being bombarded with advertising, creating a new revenue stream while keeping users happy.

All content is created equal

In the case of cryptojacking I think we've potentially stumbled on a viable monetization alternative which could create an ad-free website experience that rewards content producers regardless of the type of content they produce. In the current ad monetization space, certain content is rewarded over others because of the contextual targetting behind the posts.

A fashion blogger stands a better chance of generating an income because there are plenty of retail sites competing for their ad spots while a technical blog like how to build your own circuit boards will struggle even though people spend more time on their site. Using cryptojacking you can reward websites for creating content that is helpful and keeps users on the site and coming back for more.

Browser mining: If you would like cryptojack your own browser and earn Bitcoin while you surf the internet you can get started with simple browser mining tool like Cryptotab. The toll is currently only available for Chrome browsers.

Pick your poison

It ultimately boils down to the lesser of two evils, would you rather be bombarded with ads and provide advertisers with your user data so they can continue to target you or lend some of your resources? The choice should be left up to you!

Contact us

If you want to know more about cryptocurrency don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice and is for educational purposes only. As of the time posting the writers may or may not have holdings in some of the coins or tokens they cover. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency as all investments contain risk.

Tags: Cryptocurrency, blockchain , Cyber Security

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