Nearly one billion visitors a month to four popular video sites are being unwittingly forced to mine cryptocurrency, according to a report on the practice of so called cryptojacking.
Four popular video streaming sites have forced nearly 1bn visitors to mine cryptocurrency in secret.
Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo and OnlineVideoConverter were unavailable for comment before publication.
The discovery is the latest in a huge wave of websites that are loading up (both with and without the operators' knowledge) alt-coin mining software to co-opt the compute cycles of visitors to help generate cryptocurrency.
"While analyzing the first complaints, we came across several VERY popular websites that secretly use the resources of users' devices for cryptocurrency mining", AdGuard cofounder Andrey Meshkov explained this week. "According to SimilarWeb, these four sites register 992m visits monthly".
Meshkov said: "The total monthly earnings from [this] cryptojacking, taking into account the current Monero rate, can reach $326,000". These are simply outrageous figures, especially if we add them to the results of our previous research.
In recent weeks, digital currencies had risen dramatically in value, with monero specifically rising from $90 dollars to $300 apiece in just a month.
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A program is loaded on to the unwitting user's machine, typically through the browser when they visit a site with a video or other interactive element, which begins to solve computational problems that generate rewards in the form of cryptocurrency - so called mining.
For cryptocurrencies that depend on specialised, integrated circuits to work (ASICs) like bitcoin, such a mining method was impossible.
According to AdGuard, the massive Monero-mining operation was discovered when ad-blocking plugin developer was fine-tuning its ad blockers to catch and block sites that attempt to hijack web surfers' spare CPU cycles for mining.
"The popularity of cryptojacking has grown with alarming speed", said Meshkov.
"At the moment, the only real solution is to use an ad blocker, an antivirus or one of the specialized extensions to combat crypto-jacking".
However, cryptojacking was not a new phenomenon. The site defended itself by saying it was an experiment in trying to replace online advertising.
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