The top 100,000 websites as ranked by Alexa were examined. Co-founder and CTO Andrey Meshkov gave his company’s verdicts on Thursday.
“We scanned for the codes for Coinhive and JSEcoin, the most successful solutions for browser mining in use now,” Meshkov wrote. The study revealed that 220 of these websites have been using crypto-mining scripts. The four most targeted nations are the U.S., India, Russia, and Brazil.
We found 220 sites that start mining when a user starts their main page, with an aggregated audience of 500 million people. These users live all over the world; there are places with users from the USA, China, South American and European countries, Russia, India, Iran… and the list goes on.
Adguard expected that each website running a crypto-mining script made about $43,000 within the examined three-week period. While they have not made millions, Meshkov said, “this money has been created in three weeks at almost zero cost.”
Most of the websites using cryptocurrency mining scripts are “pirate TV and video sites, Torrent trackers and porn websites,” he explained. Video streaming platforms are ideal for mining, he explained, citing “they boast a huge audience that keeps their site open in their browsers for a long time.” The largest torrent search engine, The Pirate Bay, was recently caught using CoinHive, which was also observed to be used on CBS’ Showtime websites. Meshkov suggested:
The ethical way for a website to earn Revenue by mining through its audience’s machines is to ask the audience for permission first and to allow them the opportunity to opt out. Actually, such a practice could make mining even more moral than ads. After all, nobody asks us if we would like to see ads on a website.
While the Coinhive team has published a comment asking website operators to ask user permission before using their CPUs to mine cryptocurrencies, Meshkov explained that it is difficult to enforce this order. “For example, they cannot forbid stealth mining,” he said, summing that there are other ways to check websites running crypto-mining scripts without users consent.
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