Cryptojacking Explained: Who is Mining? (2022)
Oct 17, 2023
If you are an avid internet user, you may have come across warnings from your browsers about websites that mine crypto inside your browser. This practice known as cryptojacking was once quite prevalent in the crypto space, but has fallen significantly ever since.
Cryptojacking may sound ingenious at first - instead of (or in addition to) serving ads, website owners could earn money using their website visitors' computing power to mine cryptocurrencies. Yet, it is often used without consent and bares several downsides.
But before going to much into detail, let's start things simple.
What is Cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking started as a practice where websites place a script on a website to secretly use its visitors' computing power for mining cryptocurrencies, eventually generating profits for the owner of the website in question. The term cryptojacking is thereby a mix of the words cryptocurrency and hijacking.
Cryptojacking became increasingly popular during the 2017/2018 crypto bull market, and many sites started to use this method to monetise their traffic at their visitors' expense.
What is Who Is Mining?
Who Is Mining was a website that allowed you to check whether a website is secretly mining cryptocurrency abusing visitor's CPU power. The purpose of whoismining.com was to provide a simple tool to bring awareness on the overly popular "cryptojacking".
Who Is Mining was suspended in 2022 due to the falling use and subsequent irrelevance of browser mining.
What is Coinhive?
Coinhive went offline in March of 2019 after a steep crash in the price of Monero and a hard fork of the Monero blockchain, both if which made it much less lucrative to mine the cryptocurrency in browsers.
Other now defunct crypto browser mining services included ea-mine.com, chainmine.io, webmine.cz, webminepool.com, and minecrunch.co.
Issues of Cryptojacking
There are several problems associated with cryptojacking, as explained by Troy Hunt, who is now the owner of the coinhive.com domain:
- Visitors' computer hardware and energy bill are strained without their consent, which is quite a shady practice.
- The opportunity to make a quick buck, anonymously, attracted lots and lots of dubious actors and hackers.
Due to these issues, several browsers are now actively monitoring website performance and can warn users when they detect that a website is mining crypto.
Cryptojacking in 2022
Due to the detection of cryptojacking by browsers, the crypto crash in early 2018 and the subsequent bankruptcy of several providers, cryptojacking has shifted away from browser mining, to undetectedly installing crypto mining software on your computer.
This means that the vast majority of websites are now free of crypto mining.
Yet, websites, online ads and emails can still trick you into clicking malicious links that installs crypto mining malware onto your computer. While this software does not directly harm your computer, e.g. stealing or encrypting data as in spyware and ransomware attacks, it can slow down your computer significantly and reduce the lifetime of your device.
Therefore, it is important to stay vigilant to any such threats.
Cryptojacking started out as a means to finance websites through mining cryptocurrencies. Due to its often illicit use, it is now blocked by major browsers.