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Web Surfers Rejoice? Browser Miner Coinhive to Shut Down After Monero Hard Fork

Web Surfers Rejoice? Browser Miner Coinhive to Shut Down After Monero Hard Fork
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This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 06:42 pm

Coinhive, the company behind the leading in-browser cryptocurrency miner—which is used in numerous crypto jacking campaigns—will be discontinuing its service. The company announced the news on Feb. 26th, saying that the last Monero hard fork impacted the software’s profitability and left the entire project economically unviable.

Coinhive Service to Shut Down

Coinhive, a popular in-browser cryptocurrency miner, will be shutting down its operation in less than a week. According to the company’s official announcement, the service’s in-browser mining scripts will be discontinued on Mar. 8th. Users will have until Apr. 30th to access their dashboards and initiate payouts if their balances are above the minimum payout threshold.

The crash of the cryptocurrency market in 2018 caused the value of XMR to depreciate over 85 percent within a year, making the company’s business model of mining the currency “economically unviable.” Furthermore, Monero’s frequent hard forking could be the cause of additional costly software upkeep for the company.

“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,” the company explained in the announcement.

What Led to Coinhive’s Demise?

Marketed as an innovative way for website owners to generate revenue, Coinhive experienced huge popularity when it launched in 2017. The service enabled websites to use the computing resources of their visitors to mine Monero, thus effectively removing the need to depend on advertisements. Users touted Coinhive as a groundbreaking service as it enabled a community to be created around the privacy-focused cryptocurrency.

However, the company’s script quickly gained notoriety as unscrupulous websites and hackers started using it in malicious crypto jacking attacks. Hackers were quick to insert the easily deployable mining script into websites and mine Monero for their Coinhive accounts.

According to ESET Security, in one instance, almost 4,300 websites inadvertently became part of a crypto jacking attack, with disproportionate growth in these kinds of attacks worldwide.

The use of Coinhive’s script in malicious crypto jacking attacks left the company better off financially but also tarnished its reputation. Furthermore, the German-based service was hit with another blow. When Monero lost 85 percent of its value—going from $400 to $50 in less than 12 months—it substantially reduced the amount in fees Coinhive could collect and potentially caused some users of the script to look for other sources of revenue.

And while the company provided the next Monero hard fork, scheduled for Mar. 9, as another reason for its shutdown the explanation doesn’t add up. The elimination of ASICs from the Monero network should decrease mining difficulty and actually increase the profitability of conventional computer hardware, the target of the software.

Instead, some experts pointed out that Coinhive’s high fees pushed customers away. The service’s best and biggest customers were crypto jackers, security researcher Troy Mursch said, and the service has even grown unpopular with them as other more profitable alternatives have arisen.

Hopefully, this will give web surfers and their hardware, especially those who frequent the seedier parts of the web, a much-needed break from the oftentimes intrusive software. However, it’s probable that other intrusive crypto jacking software will take its place.

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