In-Browser Cryptocurrency Miners: what are they, what do they do?

RapidVPN/ March 2, 2018/ Blog/

Understanding In-browser Cryptomining

It used to be that the calculations involved, the scholarly qualifications needed to set up and run special equipment and the cost of the electricity needed to carry out the work of cryptomining were too complex for the average PC and the average Joe to deal with, making bitcoin mining an impossible task. But not anymore.


What Are In-browser Cryptocurrency Miners?

The last few months of 2017 have seen a massive resurgence of browser-based cryptocurrency mining activity, along with an explosion in the cryptocurrency market in 2017. But what exactly is in-browser mining?

In-browser mining involves using a scripting language inside a website to mine cryptocurrency. In this approach, there is no downloading and running a dedicated executable file, which is more widely known as file-based cryptocurrency mining. Rather, it uses a home hardware (like CPU or even mobile devices) and easy-to-use JavaScript APIs embedded within the webpage that enables them to run certain programs without the notice of the user.

An in-browser cryptocurrency miner is a term used to refer to both the script and the hacker or programmer or website owner who wrote the script. The JavaScript script or code language is implemented into webpages so that it enables websites visited by unsuspecting users to create and pool cryptocurrency into the blockchain. The result is that new coins are created and rewarded to the miner who wrote the script.

Coinhive leads the way as the most prominent of these current browser-based miners, and they are mining for Monero (XMR).

It was once the case that the mining would stop when the visitor(s) leaves the webpage or closes that page window. Now however, new techniques have been developed to ensure that the mining continues even after the page has been closed. In these new techniques:

  • plugins and add-ons and extensions are created to contain the mining script so that they become a permanent part of the browser;
  • a pop-under window remains indefinitely open even after closing the webpage, and it fits behind the MS Windows notifications tray and hides behind the clock while it continues to run the cryptomining code (Dan, 2017).


Pros And Construction Of Browser-based Cryptomining

You will be donating a huge chunk of your CPU processing power and electricity bill to the mining activities. And although website owners could legitimately sign up to the service and embed these scripts into their web pages to make their users mine for them, most websites do not seek the consent of their visitors before embedding the code into their browsers.

But how’s this for a goodie goodie? Looking for the good in cryptomining? Then look here:

Coinhive markets itself as an alternative to browser ad revenue. In other words, users indirectly pay for the content they consume the sites they visit by coin mining when they visit such mining sites, and website owners ensure that ads, trackers, and all other associated paraphernalia are removed from the site so that the users enjoy cleaner faster ad-free and privacy-focused browsing (Zayn, 2017). To make users stay longer, such websites are packed full with value which makes them “sticky”.