Тhe profitability of cryptocurrency mining is decreasing on the backdrop of this year’s persistently bearish markets but Coinhive seems to be doing pretty well. The browser-based miner has earned a quarter million dollars worth of monero in just one month, according to a new study conducted by German researchers.
One in Three Minted Coins Goes to Coinhive Developers
According to the study, the miner has generated 1,271 XMR, or approximately $250,000 worth of monero, during the observation period of four weeks this spring. At the current, lower prices of around $88 USD per coin, the amount is still substantial – over $110,000 USD.
Coinhive is also estimated to mine 1.18 percent of all monero blocks with a median hash rate of 5.5M h/s. Its developers receive 30 percent of every minted coin and the authors of the research claim that most of the commission is sent to a small group of people.
Released in 2017, Coinhive was created to facilitate websites offering visitors ad-free experience in return for using their hardware to mine cryptocurrencies like monero. The absence of advertisements, however, comes with slower browsing speeds as the miner works in the background. Other factors, such as shortened battery life of mobile devices, rising energy bills, and the plummeting prices of the mined cryptocurrencies should also be taken into account when assessing how viable in-browser mining is as an alternative to ad-based financing.
Besides, these are not the only negatives – hackers have long learned how to take advantage of the mining code. They often break into websites, including the official web pages of government institutions, to install Coinhive and configure it to send the mined coins to their own wallets. Browser extensions have also been targeted and according to a recent report, routers too.
Despite Ineffective Blocking, Prevalence Remains Low
Analyzing the browser-based mining as a new revenue generating model to monetize websites without ads, the researchers from the largest German technical university have inspected for mining code the Alexa Top 1M and .com/.net/.org domains. They were able to confirm the utilization of browser-mining software but the prevalence remains low at less than 0.08 percent of the sites.
Unsatisfied with the results from the No Coin filter, an extension available on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and the Opera browser, the scientists used an alternative technique based on Webassembly fingerprinting to identify miners and found that up to 82 percent of the mining websites were not detected by popular block lists.
The authors of the study concluded that Coinhive is the largest web-based mining provider used by 75 percent of the sites mining cryptocurrency. Inspecting the Coinhives’ link-forwarding service, they also found that “10 heavy users contribute over 80% of all short links mostly targeting streaming and filesharing services.”
What do you think about in-browser crypto mining as an alternative to ad-based monetization of websites? Share your opinions on the subject in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, RWTH Aachen University.