The miner utilizes CPU power from visitors to generate Monero coins for the site, providing an extra revenue source.
While Pirate Bay only tested the option briefly, it inspired many others to follow suit. Streaming related sites such as Alluc, Vidoza, and Rapidvideo jumped on board, and torrent site Demonoid also ran some tests.
During the weekend, Coinhive’s miner code even appeared on the official website of Showtime. The code was quickly removed and it’s still unclear how it got there, as the company refuses to comment. It’s clear, though, that miners are a hot topic thanks to The Pirate Bay.
The revenue potential is also real. TorrentFreak spoke to Vidoza who say that with 30,000 online users throughout the day (2M unique visitors), they can make between $500 and $600. That’s when the miner is throttled at 50%. Although ads can bring in more, it’s not insignificant.
That said, all the uproar about cryptocurrency miners and their possible abuse has also attracted the attention of ad-blockers. Some people have coded new browser add-ons to block miners specifically and the popular uBlock Origin added Coinhive to its default blocklist as well. And that’s just after a few days.
Needless to say, this limits the number of miners, and thus the money that comes in. And there’s another problem with a similar effect.
In addition to ad-blockers, anti-virus tools are also flagging Coinhive. Malwarebytes is one of the companies that lists it as a malicious activity, warning users about the threat.
The anti-virus angle is one of the issues that worries Demonoid’s operator. The site is used to ad-blockers, but getting flagged by anti-virus companies is of a different order.
“The problem I see there and the reason we will likely discontinue [use of the miner] is that some anti-virus programs block it, and that might get the site on their blacklists,” Deimos informs TorrentFreak.
Vidoza operator Eugene sees all the blocking as an unwelcome development and hopes that Coinhive will tackle it. Coinhive may want to come out in public and start to discuss the issue with ad-blockers and anti-virus companies, he says.
“They should find out under what conditions all these guys will stop blocking the script,” he notes.
The other option would be to circumvent the blocking through proxies and circumvention tools, but that might not be the best choice in the long run.
Coinhive, meanwhile, has chimed in as well. The company says that it wasn’t properly prepared for the massive attention and understands why some ad-blockers have put them on the blacklist.
“Providing a real alternative to ads and users who block them turned out to be a much harder problem. Coinhive, too, is now blocked by many ad-block browser extensions, which – we have to admit – is reasonable at this point.”
Most complaints have been targeted at sites that implemented the miner without the user’s consent. Coinhive doesn’t like this either and will take steps to prevent it in future.
“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate Coinhive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the Coinhive team notes.
The crypto miner provider is working on a new implementation that requires explicit consent from website visitors in order to run. This should deal with most of the negative responses.
If users start mining voluntarily, then ad-blockers and anti-virus companies should no longer have a reason to block the script. Nor will it be easy for malware peddlers to abuse it.
To be continued.