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Your Browser Could Be Mining Cryptocurrency Behind Your Back

If adware, spyware, and viruses weren’t enough to be concerned about, Agora Financial adds cryptojacking to the list of internet dangers to watch out for. With cryptojacking, your laptop or mobile device is secretly used to mine cryptocurrency when you visit certain websites.

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Hackers don’t have to clandestinely install software on your computer for cryptojacking to be pulled off. Instead, the technique uses Javascript to begin the work of mining cryptocurrency whenever you load a website that’s been compromised. Cryptojacking itself is relatively harmless; they’re not trying to get your information, just use your computer. The scripts are very resource intensive and uses up a lot of your computer resources. In some cases, your computer’s processor load spikes significantly after you visit certain websites.

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You can’t always tell right away that a website has a mining scripts built-in. In some cases, there may not even be a noticeable difference in your computer performance (some scripts are able to adjust the amount of computer resources it uses). There could be an increase in your electric bill due to the increased usage of your computer, especially if you leave your computer on with that particular web pageo pen.

 

It’s not easy to predict which exactly which websites as mining scripts installed. Hackers have found ways to add their scripts to legitimate websites like Showtime and Polifact.com. Not even the web owners know their sites are being used to mine currencies for someone else.

 

What exactly is happening when a script uses your computer to mine currencies?

 

First, get a brief understanding of how digital current transactions are processed. Transactions made with digital currencies are verified by other users on that cryptocurrency platform. The verification process involves doing complex calculations that can only be done by computers. Once the calculation is complete and a batch of transactions is verified, the person who completes the batch earns a transaction fee and a reward in the form of digital currency. The more computing power a person has, the more transactions they can verify, the more money they can earn.

 

Of course, it’s expensive to gain more computing power the old-fashioned way – by filling up a warehouse with powerful computers and servers. Not to mention the cost of electricity would eat into a cryptocurrency miner’s profits. By taking advantage of other people’s computers to confirm a batch of transactions, hackers get to keep the profits and leave you with nothing, except maybe a higher electric bill.

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Can you protect yourself from cryptojacking?

 

You can prevent cryptojacking by using your web browser’s ad blocking tool. Chrome has an extension called No Coin that blocks certain mining.

 

Cryptojacking doesn’t only present a problem for web users. It can be problematic for web publishers as well. The average computer user who notices their computers being sluggish after visiting a website isn’t likely to know that cryptojacking is cause of their computer problems. Instead, the user will more likely blame the website and may never visit again.

 

Crypto mining as an alternative to ads?

 

Not all instances of crypojacking are necessarily malicious. Back in September, the torrent site The Pirate Bay tried out a tool called Coinhive, to use some of each visitor’s computer processing resources to mine the cryptocurrency Monero. In this case, The Pirate Bay was trying to make a little extra money to pay the costs of operating the site, something that would help since the site is a non-profit.

 

Of course, if more businesses wanted to run cryptomining scripts to generate additional revenue, transparency would be key. Users should be able to opt-in if they want to allow their resources to be used for cryptomining.

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