Instead of displaying advertisements, a popular online magazine is planning on using its audience’s “unused computing power” to mine cryptocurrency.
Salon, a US-based liberal opinion magazine, has told readers of its plans to mine cryptocurrencies in their browsers because so many are choosing to block advertisements on their site.
The code that would allow Salon to do this is the exact same as that used by hackers in a recent attack which led to a Government website being taken down.
It is using software known as “Coinhive”, a program advertising itself as “A Crypto Miner for your Website” which runs in the background until the webpage is closed.
The cryptocurrency it is mining is called Monero, which unlike Bitcoin-based systems does not publicly track who is sending and receiving the cash, making it preferable for those who want to put extra resources into maintaining their anonymity.
It grew popular in 2016 when it was adopted by the darknet market AlphaBay which was shut down by a huge international operation in July 2017, and has been targeted by North Korean hackers.
The key difference between Salon and the criminals is of course that Salon will have its readers’ consent to donate their computer’s spare power.
A number of scientific projects also use spare computing power to contribute towards research.
SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses internet-connected computers to contribute to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by having their processors analyse radio telescope data.
GIMPS, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, has been responsible for finding the latest prime numbers known to mathematics, with the most recent one being more than 23 million digits long.