Effect of browser based Cryptocurrency mining (CoinHive) on the end user & his hardware

Learn how Cryptocurrency mining software like CoinHive affect your end users

To test this I signed up for CoinHive a recent cryptomining system that offers simple methods to make money from your web traffic. Their offering is simple: add their code (Capcha, HTTP, javascript etc) to your website and the code will force your website users browser to mine cryptocurrency. It is something like stealing your unsuspecting neighbors’ electricity to cook food in your house.

cryptocurrency-mining

So, I signed up, generated an API key and installed the CoinHive code on my website. The website in question has about 40k views a month, where an average user session lasts about 3.5 minutes. I read as much of the documentation and terms of service of CoinHive as possible in a span of 1 hour. I understood that I am allowing the code to use my website visitors CPU power to do calculations that ultimately help to make Monero bitcoins, through javascript on the user’s browser.


To see it from a users perspective I opened a page from my website (under this experiment). I saw nothing different in using the website. It appeared all normal. After a few minutes, however, my computer started lagging behind. It does sometimes when the disk space usage zooms to 90% and I don’t shut down the system for days. But this time, it appeared unreasonaly slow. I opened the task manager to see what’s wrong and this is what I saw.

crypto-mining-cpu-usage

Note the CPU consumed by firefox in which I opened my own site running cryptomining code. Then to make sure whether this was a temporary computer spike in CPU usage, I closed the tab with my website and checked the task manager again. Behold the difference.

normal-cpu-usage

So, now you get a feeling of how your user feels when they are using your website. Particularly, if you are using the Javascript Code and you are not notifying the user about the same you are probably violating users privacy and making an unauthorized usage of his CPU cycles.

High CPU usage for longer periods ultimately decreases the life span of your CPU. In simpler words, your PC’s CPU may break down faster if you are running it on maximum utilization for long periods. Here is more info on superuser.com.

So taking this information into consideration we can deduce that more heat and more volts cause an increased level of degradation due to electromigration. Running the CPU at 100% means it will receive more volts and therefore more heat (for sustained periods), ultimately contributing to the shortened lifespan (literally speaking, without taking into account how long and how often these periods of activity occur).

Like I said above, this is almost like stealing your neighbors’ electricity to cook food at your house while causing damage to their appliances. This is a crime, you agree or not.

Conclusion: CryptoCrypto currency mining scripts apps like CoinHive

  1. Take your CPU utilization to 100%
  2. They drag your website users PC / Mac / Tab / Mobile performance and make them slow.
  3. They may decrease the lifespan of users hardware on long-term usage.

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