A new “hacking” trend – Mining Bitcoin on the comfort of your browser

You may have heard already about Bitcoin or some other crypto currency on your work, talks with friends, news or internet, so I suppose that this subject isn’t new for you. If it is, make sure to check out some good sources about the subject on the end of this post. For now, I’ll be talking about something that I perceive as a new “hacking” trend and maybe even something that companies could use to generate income (if done legally).

Mining Bitcoin is something that is on the backstage of the whole Bitcoin subject, people does that to generate their own Bitcoins, at least used to.

  • So, what is this all about? How does one mine Bitcoins?

The short answer – when people says that one is mining bitcoin, it basically means that the person or group of persons is exchanging his/her computational power for Bitcoins.

  • Why would I exchange computation power for bitcoins?

The technology behind Bitcoin consists of a huge network of computers, each computer of this network processes transactions that are made with Bitcoin, something like a real-life broker. So, imagine that you’re buying something from a friend and you’re paying with Bitcoins, by doing that you send to his wallet the amount of 1 bitcoin. To the Bitcoin network complete the transaction, it must be processed by all computers on the network, this guarantees the transaction uniqueness and safely “register” it on the network.

If you opt to join Bitcoin’s processing network, you will be able to execute and register these kind of trades, receiving a “salary” for doing so. This is in simple terms how you “mine” Bitcoins.

  • Is this profitable?

If you are willing to put your domestic computer to work while you’re on the office, the short answer is no. Nowadays, there is so many computers “mining” Bitcoins that it is totally unreliable to use domestic computers for it, the electrical power that you will use to keep your computer running will suppress the amount of money you’ll make.

  • So, why are hackers using my browser to do that?

That’s the golden question and the answer is scalability.

Imagine Facebook, how many people goes to Facebook everyday and stays there for a while? A lot… Now, think about my previous statement, where I said that a single domestic computer won’t be able to mine enough Bitcoins to become profitable. So, what about 1 million computers working together at a given hour/minute/second?

That’s sounds like a lot of computational power, right? And that’s exactly how it’s being done, not only via browsers but as well computer viruses.

  • How do they do that?

In a way most people won’t even notice, “hackers” add a piece of code into their websites or stolen/hacked websites, so when someone opens the site, the piece of code starts using your computer power to mine Bitcoins to him/her trough the browser. They usually set the code to use just some of your processing power, so the most users won’t notice it, and it stays there sucking your computational power until you leave the web site or close the browser completely.

The first one to do this was a famous torrenting site called the Piratebay. A few pages of the site were set to mine Bitcoins by using its visitor processing power, the site said that they were testing a way to generate revenue with the people that uses its services but they didn’t alerted the user about it and kept doing it until someone noticed and brought it to the news.

Now you are probably asking yourself: How can I detect and avoid this? Until now, you pretty much have two ways of doing it…

  • Stay alert for sudden loss of computer processing power when visiting websites

Or

  • Block resources used by your browser to load and run web pages, more specifically JavaScript

Right now may not be the best time to worry about it since this technique is pretty new and most sites that does this are the “underground” ones, but it is indeed very interesting to be ready and aware of what comes next.

So, just like me you may be wondering, will this new trend become popular among hackers? Will my favorite website start doing it for additional revenue? These are answers that only time can will be able to answer.

At the end of the day, this probably could be done legally and be an alternative for those annoying Ads.IN my opinion, this won’t be a problem if visitors and customers are warned about what’s going on with their processors, after all what’s bad in sharing a little of processing power in exchange of accessing your favorite content?

As always, thanks for you time on reading this and feel free to share any comments about the subject!

References and more content:

 

 

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