Any browser script capable of mining cryptocurrencies has gained somewhat of a bad reputation this year. This is mainly due to various websites implementing such scripts without warning their users beforehand. It now seems there is another concern regarding such scripts which will need to be addressed. There are now some modified versions of those mining scripts which remain in operation even when one’s browser is closed.
Cryptocurrency Mining Scripts Continue to Evolve
In a way, it is not entirely surprising to see cryptocurrency mining scripts evolve over time. The first order of business has been to let anyone integrate such code into their website as conveniently as possible. In most cases, this means virtually every website one could imagine has implemented a form of Monero mining, which has earned that cryptocurrency somewhat of a bad name in recent months. At the same time, it is only to be expected that this concept would receive some refinement over time.
While it used to suffice to either exit a page or close one’s browser to get rid of these mining scripts, that is no longer the case. New forms of these scripts are capable of continuing the mining process even after one’s browser is closed. That is pretty challenging to deal with, for obvious reasons. According to researchers, this is a simple yet effective way of covertly mining cryptocurrency while using someone else’s computing resources in the process.
We have seen multiple sites experiment with cryptocurrency mining scripts over the past few months. The Pirate Bay is perhaps the most obvious example of the lot, but there have also been more nefarious attempts to incorporate such code. More specifically, a fair few websites have been hacked so that criminals could embed Monero mining scripts on the sites for their own benefit. These included a UFC streaming site as well as a few other platforms which receive a lot of daily visitors.
The new browser technique used to keep the script going after the browser closes involves creating hidden pop-up windows. These windows are activated behind the Windows taskbar, which makes them invisible to the user. Anyone who doesn’t use the alt-tab shortcut on a regular basis will never notice something is going on in the background. The hidden windows will consume a high amount of CPU power, though, and users may notice their computers slowing down quite significantly.
Moreover, it seems this technique will pose a lot of new problems for security researchers. Identifying and countering this new threat will not be easy whatsoever. The pop-up in question is designed to bypass adblockers and hides itself pretty well. It is a very disturbing development, as it forces users to close processes through their OS’s process manager. Once people leave the website mining cryptocurrency, that should be the end of the story. Sadly, that is no longer the case whatsoever.
It will be interesting to see whether or not this new form of cryptocurrency mining script will become popular among website owners. Any platform resorting to such methods will face a lot of scrutiny in the years to come. Rest assured this is not the last development in the world of cryptocurrency mining scripts we will come across. It is a lucrative way of making money; that much is certain.