Citing miner-attrition from “forks” and declining crypto prices, CoinHive, an in-browser crypto mining software service favored by malicious cryptojackers, will be shutting down in March, ZDNet reports.
CoinHive was initially conceived as a way for websites to earn revenue from visitors without having to show them ads.
The Pirate Bay site (a site for the sharing of shared and stolen content), for instance, would give visitors the right to consent to having CoinHive software engage their browsers in the mining of the “privacy crypto” Monero (XMR) for the duration of their time visiting the site.
Charities also used CoinHive in a similar manner.
It didn’t take long, however, for hackers to co-opt the software and use it to try and infect hundred of large networks without them being aware.
According to ZDNet, “Coinhive scripts end(ed) up on government sites, live chat widgets, gaming mods, famous sites, fundraising campaigns, Youtube ads, ad networks, browser extensions, routers, mobile apps, and desktop applications.”
CoinHive then naturally attracted considerable scrutiny and criticism from cybersecurity experts, who say the company did zero to stop the inflow of revenues coming from malicious use of their software.
Coinhive’s domain was subsequently, “banned in both antivirus products and ad blocker browser extensions alike.”
According to ZDNet, during the crypto boom, CoinHive was (more or less passively) bringing in over $250 000 USD per month.
But crypto down markets and various adjustments to the Monero (XMR) algorithm (designed to chuck would-be monopolist miners off the network) have reportedly caused declining revenues at CoinHive.
“It has been a blast working on this project over the past 18 months, but to be completely honest, it isn’t economically viable anymore.”
Technological and market factors are cited in the post:
“The drop in hash rate (over 50%) after the last Monero hard fork hit us hard. So did the ‘crash’ of the crypto currency market with the value of XMR depreciating over 85% within a year.”
Forthcoming plans by Monero developer to fork the coin once again appear to be nails in CoinHive’s coffin:
“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.”
As of March 8th, says CoinHive, “…mining will not be operable anymore after March 8, 2019.”
CoinHive users can reportedly cash out until April 30th:
“Your dashboards will still be accessible until April 30, 2019 so you will be able to initiate your payouts if your balance is above the minimum payout threshold.”
— Bad Packets Report (@bad_packets) August 16, 2018
As well, since the introduction of CoinHive in September 2017, a number of competing software producers had entered the fray.
Malwarebytes researcher Jérôme Segura told ZDNet that the closure of CoinHive may be part of a general decline in the prevalence of cryptojacking, a crime many pundits have said is on the rise and is eclipsing ransomware attacks (seizing of data and then demanding a cryptocurrency ransoms for its release):
“There are still a lot of hacked sites with Coinhive code, but I have a feeling these are mostly remnants from past hacks…Most of what I see these days is CoinIMP [a Coinhive competitor] and it’s been active again with Drupal hacks recently. But overall, I think the trend is nearing out.”