Jaeheon Shim
Hi! I'm Jaeheon Shim, a computer programmer and technology enthusiast who lives in Columbus, Indiana. I like contributing to open-source development projects on GitHub, working on my own web-based applications, and writing articles on my blog Learn The Technology. In my free time, I manage CAMEO's public website and provide free tech assistance to friends and family :).

IMPORTANT: Websites may be using your computer to mine cryptocurrency

I recently found out about a service called coin-hive.com, which allows you to embed a script on your website that mines for Monero. Monero is like Bitcoin, but easier to mine because of its friendly hashing technique. I visited a random website and was surprised to find out that coin-hive’s mining service was secretly embedded inside the website.

A secret JavaScript script mining for bitcoin

What is Coin-Hive?

Coinhive is a service that you can use to monetize your website by using visitors’ computers to mine cryptocurrency. It even says on the front page of their website: “Monetize Your Business With Your Users’ CPU Power”. They claim it is an alternative to putting ads on your website. I strongly disapprove of this service for many reasons. My main reason being: Website admins are secretly using this service without their visitors knowing, and this slows down your computer, limiting optimal performance.

I think that this is an unethical way to earn money. What this is basically doing is using your CPU/GPU power, without your permission, to earn money. It is more ethical to monetize your website using ads, which do not use your computer to benefit from.

Coinhive’s logo

The Coinhive mining service states on the website that “While it’s possible to run the miner without informing your users, we strongly advise against it. You know this. Long-term goodwill of your users is much more important than any short-term profits.” While this is a valid warning, it is unlikely that anyone is going to follow it if they want to earn some serious money.

The New York Post also says that a similar thing happened to Starbucks’ Wi-Fi service, with the same application, Coin-hive, being used to mine cryptocurrency. @imnoah tweets “Hi @Starbucks @StarbucksAr did you know that your in-store wifi provider in Buenos Aires forces a 10-second delay when you first connect to the wifi so it can mine bitcoin using a customer’s laptop? Feels a little off-brand.. cc @GMFlickinger

Coin-Hive’s Captcha

What is even more surprising and fake is that Coin-Hive boasts a so-called Captcha service. Captcha is meant for websites to verify that you are not a robot. You have probably seen this where you are required to type in the disfigured letters to sign up for a service.

But Coin-Hive mines Monero on your computer to verify if you are human or not. This is outrageous! The company is basically saying “To prove you’re human, we need to use your CPU to earn some extra money.” The company claims that its “Captcha” service “works exactly like a conventional captcha, such as Google’s reCaptcha.” I hope no one actually believes this false advertising. This is an excuse to earn money, and is abusing the idea of Captcha.

Demo video showing the proof of work captcha
(This does not mine bitcoin, don’t worry)

The overall disadvantages of using Coin-Hive are:

  • It wears down your CPU
  • It slows down your computer
  • Website visitors are being used
I guess that Coin-Hive is a reasonable service, and it is what website administrators choose to do with it that determines if it is bad or good. Because website admins have started abusing this tool, we can no longer call Coin-Hive an ethical way to monetize your website. This compares to a hammer: When used as a tool it can be extremely useful, but when abused and used as a weapon can be extremely deadly.

So how can you prevent this?

One of our anonymous sources said “Use opera neon”. Opera Neon is a browser which allows you to normally browse the web. You can install an extension called the no-coin extension, which blocks miners such as Coin-Hive. Also, the only few websites that actually do this are sketchy ones, so don’t visit websites claiming that you have won an iPhone X.

So what do you think? Do you think this is an ethical way to earn money? Be sure to leave a comment down below. Also, click the blue follow button on my main page to stay up to date on new articles on my blog!

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4 Responses

  1. Jaeheon Shim says:

    Leave a comment about what you think about Coin-Hive's service below

  2. "I think that this is an unethical way to earn money."

    Huh.

  3. Kyunam says:

    I also think it is an unethical way…There are more way to earn money! Work hard and spend in smart way!

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