Most cryptocurrencies are generated through a process known as mining.
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Much like traditional mining operations, these procedures require the use of energy and resources to complete a process that yields a financial reward. In the case of cryptocurrency mining, the energy required is electricity and computing power. As cryptocurrencies have become increasingly popular around the world, so too has cryptocurrency mining.
The demand for hardware used in the process has driven up the prices of graphics processors and caused shortages for different pieces of equipment. Lurking behind the legitimate cryptocurrency mining community is another group of individuals and organizations that try to mine for cryptocurrency using illicit methods.
The most common form of illicit cryptocurrency mining makes use of malware. In the case of cryptocurrency mining malware, the program harnesses processing power from the computer in order to complete the complicated algorithmic processes necessary to finish the mining procedure. The controller of the malware, not the computer itself, reaps the cryptocurrency rewards. One of the predecessors of illicit cryptocurrency mining malware was a legitimate piece of software called Coinhive.
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The company cited several different reasons for its shutdown, including the drop in hashrate after a Monero hard fork. Coinhive enabled the mining of Monero directly within a web browser. While the intention of this project may have been to allow users to run mining operations within their own computers, the technology was quickly co-opted by cybercriminals. The process by which Coinhive was used to mine for Monero was automatic and difficult to detect; for example, visitors to a particular website may have been forced to mine for cryptocurrency without being aware of what was going on.
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Once the illicit mining technology had been developed and adopted for this use, it was not long before it spread. Malvertising was a popular means of transmitting illicit mining software to a broader audience. In some cases, hackers utilized third-party scripts which had been compromised and retooled to facilitate illicit mining software.
Illicit mining victims have ranged from individuals who happen to visit particular websites up to entire areas of governments around the world. Some highly-trafficked sites have made headlines for participating in this process; whether or not the developers of these sites were aware of the illicit cryptocurrency mining which took place may be difficult to determine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ideal target for an illicit cryptomining attack is a large server network.
The reason for this is that server networks wield the greatest degree of computing power, and the more computing power that's available, the faster the mining process can be completed. While all platforms may be subjected to illicit cryptocurrency mining activity, Windows servers, Android devices, and IoT-connected devices may be the most likely to experience attacks. A hack named EternalBlue was developed in and allowed hackers to achieve access to computers running Microsoft Windows. The tendency for hackers to shift their focus from ransomware and other older hacking methods to this secretive mining may have something to do with long-term profitability.
However, illicit cryptocurrency mining is not a victimless crime. For that reason, security companies focused on technology are working to combat the increase in these types of attacks. Unfortunately, given the ease with which hackers can put illicit cryptocurrency mining software to use, as well as the potential for long-term profitability, there is great incentive on their part to continue to develop new means to achieve this goal. Accordingly, the fight between hackers and individual computer users on the other side of the equation will probably continue to rage on.
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What Is Bitcoin Mining?
Cryptopedia Staff. Is this article helpful? Crypto Regulations. Wyoming blockchain regulations may continue to lead the way in enacting laws built for the cryptocurrency industry, rather than trying to fit companies into exi Congressional bills can create nationwide standards for industry regulation. Here we discuss some blockchain bills in the U. Congress that could pave the way Summary Cryptocurrency mining is the process of using computing power to verify transactions on a blockchain network and earning cryptocurrency for providing that service.
Arizona Arizona H. Washington As the price of bitcoin increased in , crypto miners looked for the least expensive electricity costs they could find to keep mining costs down and increase profit margins. Author Cryptopedia Staff. Topics in article Crypto Regulations.