What's All the Buzz About CoinHive?
A new way to monetize “free” digital content has popped up -- secretly using visitors’ CPUs to mine cryptocurrency while they visit pages in the darker corners of the Web. But recently, this questionable moneymaking scheme has been found on mainstream sites such as Showtime and Politifact, property of the staid Washington Post. Here's what you need to know…
A New Way To Pay For Digital Content
You've probably heard of Bitcoin, the encrypted digital currency that has gained popularity over the past few years. (See my article Is it Time to Invest In Bitcoin?) The success of Bitcoin has spawned other cryptocurrency projects, along with some questionable ways of cashing in.
Until recently, "miners" of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have tried using dedicated computers, even full-scale data centers to speed up the process of generating digital coins that can be traded for real money. But all those computers, and the power needed to run them, are expensive. So now there's a move to pass along those costs to you.
However, electricity and CPUs cost money, and CoinHive uses up both. The electricity and CPU wear-and-tear don’t amount to much for any individual user. CoinHive could, in theory, be an acceptable alternative to the annoyances and security risks of advertisements. But greed generally makes CoinHive a major pain in the user’s computer.
When CoinHive is configured to use all available CPU resources - thereby making the most Monero during a visit to the site - a visitor’s device will slow to a painful crawl, or even lock up tight. In the latter case, only a reboot will break the device free. Adding insult to this injury, many CoinHive sites don’t inform visitors that their devices are being used in this way.
Can Mining Replace Online Ads?
CoinHive has already been neutralized by most major anti-malware suites; it’s a simple matter of blocking attempted connections to coinhive.com. Generalized solutions that block detected miners based upon their behavior can’t be far off. Chrome users have their choice of several “miner blocker” extensions, the most popular and highly rated of which is AntiMiner. Firefox users have a selection of miner-blocking addons, too.
The advertising revenue that has supported the existence of free, high-quality websites like this one is shrinking. So CoinHive and its ilk raise an important question: if not ads, and if not cryptocurrency mining, how are users going to support the free content and apps that they devour so eagerly?
Surprisingly, the answer may be “subscriptions” in large part. Digital consumers have become accustomed to paying by the month for phone service, television, Netflix, Hulu, and many other types of content-delivery services. Major news publishers are seeing dramatic surges in subscriptions to digital and print editions. Most startling of all is that Millennials are leading this subscription trend.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 24 Oct 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What's All the Buzz About CoinHive? (Posted: 24 Oct 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved