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Coinhive cryptominer calls it quits

Coinhive, the world’s most known cryptojacking service, is to cease operations this March. This could signal the end to an era when mining cryptocurrencies replaced traditional malware as a moneymaker for the bad guys – or, and this is far more likely, it could just mean that the bad guys will just shift to other, newer, cheaper, and less detectable cryptomining services.

The service announced on its website that it would stop operations this March. Among the reasons cited for their decision to call it quits was the declining value of the Monero cryptocurrency (up to a reported 85% last year) and a change in the Monero generating process that slashed the number of completed calculations.

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Coinhive is a JavaScript cryptocurrency miner designed to be easily integrated and embedded into websites by their administrators. The script runs directly in the visitor’s browser and then starting to mine for cryptocurrency in the background by using its CPU power. It has been pitched as a novel way for websites to offset declining advertising revenue by generating cryptocurrencies with their visitors’ computers. As a plug-and-pay concept, it seemed like an easy way to go – with Coinhive taking about 30% of the generated coins.

Can I slow you down?

Sometimes websites disclosed that they would be mining Monero off the back of visiting surfers and mention that there might be some impact on the speed of the device. But then there were the other times when the Coinhive script was hidden in webpages – by the official admin  or even by a hacker.

Cryptomining is better than that regular malware

Coinhive also offered the bad guys an easier and safer way to make money than through traditional malware. It could hit all sorts of platforms such as Windows, Linux, MacOS – and it also could  work on mobile devices. This led to hackers quietly inserting their code into a variety of legitimate websites. It was even subtly incorporated into a few apps in the Google Play Store. Monetizing the results was slick and basically untraceable. This surreptitious cryptocurrency mining led to many security firms (including Avira) to flag and block websites with Coinhive

Follow the money, so what’s next?

Coinhive is not the only cryptominer out there, so this certainly does not mean that this type of cryptojacking scheme will disappear in a month. However, it means that there will likely be a transition to other, less well known packages and that these new players may not play as “nice” as Coinhive did.

No matter what – with an up-to-date antivirus you’re always on the safe side when it comes to protect yourself from crytojacking so buckle up and make sure your PC is safe.

As a PR Consultant and journalist, Frink has covered IT security issues for a number of security software firms, as well as provided reviews and insight on the beer and automotive industries (but usually not at the same time). Otherwise, he’s known for making a great bowl of popcorn and extraordinary messes in a kitchen.