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Cryptojacking is almost conquered – crushed along with coinhive.com – Naked Security


Cryptojacking may not be entirely dead following the shutdown of a notorious cryptomining service, but it isn’t very healthy, according to a paper released this week.

Cryptomining websites embed JavaScript code that forces the user’s browser to begin mining for cryptocurrency. The digital asset of choice is normally Monero, which is often used in cybercrime because of its enhanced anonymity features.

Some cryptomining sites sought the visitor’s permission to co-opt their browser, often in exchange for blocking ads. Others did it surreptitiously (which is what we call cryptojacking). Either way, one name kept cropping up in these cases: Coinhive.

Coinhive provided Monero cryptomining scripts for use on websites, retaining 30% of the funds for itself. It showed up on large numbers of cryptomining and cryptojacking sites. Researchers tracked them with a tool called CMTracker.

Monero underwent a hard fork and its price plummeted. This contributed to Coinhive shuttering its service in March 2019, claiming that falling prices made it economically unviable.

Given Coinhive’s popularity, how prevalent is cryptojacking now? That’s what researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada explored in their paper, called Is Cryptojacking Dead after Coinhive Shutdown?

The researchers checked 2,770 websites that CMTracker had previously identified as cryptomining sites to see if they were still running the scripts. They found that 99% of sites had ceased activities, but that around 1% (24 sites) were still operating with working scripts that mined cryptocurrency. Manual checks on a subset of the sites found that a significant proportion (11.6%) were still running Coinhive scripts that were trying to connect to the operation’s dead servers.

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