Mining cryptocurrency is a debatable topic. While some are for it, others seem to feel that it is a waste of resources and time, especially when investing in cryptocurrency seems to be the better option. For example, Russian scientists at a nuclear facility were arrested for using the facilitie’s supercomputer to mine bitcoins.
Is your PC or laptop mining cryptocurrency?
Well, according to a security researcher, the websites of your own local government and government agencies might be running scrips that inadvertently force your PC to mine cryptocoins when you visit the site. Apart from government websites, other websites too might be affected by this script.
It all began with a software called BrowseAloud
No, this is not some dangerous malware that is inconspicuously installed on your browser or PC. Rather, it is a software embedded on certain websites that offer accessibility services to those who are impaired both visually and in terms of literacy. Using this software, people can visit government services and obtain the information that they need.
Now, we’re not blaming or accusing BrowseAloud, or their parent company TextHelp for all this. Rather, according to sources, an unknown third-party modified the BrowseAloud software, injecting a software known as CoinHive into it. In case you were wondering, CoinHive is a software that is a form of cryptojacking. Once infected by CoinHive, the software would use your PC or laptop’s spare CPU power to mine cryptocoins.
If your PC has the CoinHive software installed, you’ll probably notice that it would have become slower for no apparent reason. You would have also noticed that your PC or laptop would be heating up more than usual and for laptop users, you would also notice a significant hit on battery life.
Who has been infected thus far?
In the UK for example, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Student Loan Company were both affected. In addition, mining scripts were also found on the websites of the General Medical Council and NHS Inform. It wasn’t only in the UK though. Websites under the Indiana Government and the US courts systems had also fallen victim to the CoinHive mining software.
The fact that websites belonging to Governments fell victim to an attack of this caliber is actually quite surprising. Also, it’s worth to note that, no matter how safe you think you are, cryptojacking is still a threat that can wreack havoc on systems, regardless how carefully you monitor all programs and add-ons installed.
How can you be ahead and stay safe from CoinHive?
If you feel that your Desktop and/or laptop is running slowly and you find no probable cause as to why it’s acting as such, you can install a content blocker such as No Coin. This is a plugin available for popular browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Opera that deals with blocking and/or stopping cryptojacking.
If you want to take steps a bit further, the latest version of Opera’s browser for both desktop and mobile comes with cryptojacking protection built right into the browser itself.
Since the infection of BrowseAloud, TextHelp has suspended the BrowseAloud plugin until they can come up with a viable solution to address the issue.
Have you experienced any slowdowns in your PC or laptop that you think is attributed to CoinHive? Leave a comment below.