Cryptojacking vs Crypto Malware: One Slows as One Poses a Much More Seriously Risk Threat
Cryptojacking is a method that entails the unauthorized use of another person’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. However, current signs are showing that the practice may be declining due to smaller profit margins and Coinhive’s closure.
The practice often entails using the Monero mining program to monetize webpages, however rather than placing advertisements on the websites, the software takes a bit of each site visitor’s mining power. More visitors to the website means more mining power for Monero mining. Since its first use, the system has been gaining traction and has affected millions of devices. It has also led to battery drains and higher electricity bills. Worse yet, those who are affected are often unaware of it.
It seems though, that Coinhive, which is the legal browser extension, has been experiencing lower profit margins and in turn, the practice became less profitable for the criminals that use the system. In a blog post made last week, Coinhive announced that it will be closing due to the decline in the Monero hash rate and the crypto market. The blog post stated,
“Some of you might have anticipated this, some of you will be surprised. The decision has been made. We will discontinue our service on March 8, 2019. It has been a blast working on this project over the past 18 months, but to be completely honest, it isn’t economically viable anymore. The drop in hash rate (over 50%) after the last Monero hard fork hit us hard. So did the ‘crash’ of the crypto currency market with the value of XMR depreciating over 85% within a year. This and the announced hard fork and algorithm update of the Monero network on March 9 has lead us to the conclusion that we need to discontinue Coinhive.”
It seems that the decision to close was influenced by a showing that cryptojacking has become less profitable, particularly around 2018. Interestingly enough, despite the closure, cryptojacking is still a major global malware threat. A number of other companies are hoping to take Coinhive’s place.
According to Chris Dawson, a lead at Proofpoint Security, a power vacuum exist due to Coinhive’s departure. He stated,
“Coinhive accounts for around 60 percent of the cryptojacking market — which means there are 40 percent which are others already in use, so we’ll probably see a spike in those.”
On the other hand, there are those who disagree. For example, Jerome Sgura of Malwarebytes told ZDNet that he believes that the crypto industry is coming to a slowdown. He stated,
“There are still a lot of hacked sites with Coinhive code, but I have a feeling these are mostly remnants from past hacks. Most of what I see these days is CoinIMP and it’s been active again with Drupal hacks recently. But overall, I think the trend is nearing out.”
Rather, the main threat now arises from Malware. Time will show who is right.