Back in September, The Pirate Bay attempted to use its visitors’ processors to mine cryptocurrency, resulting in a trend that other websites began to adopt. It seems that this craze hasn’t slowed down, with almost 2,500 websites implementing the same tactic on unsuspecting web surfers.
These figures come from Willem de Groot, an independent security researcher who reported that the infamous CoinHive software had made its way to 2,496 e-commerce sites as of Tuesday. Willem notes that it is unlikely that these “legitimate store owners” have added CoinHive to the code themselves in an attempt to gain an extra bit of cash, and that each site is likely to have been running out of date and therefore vulnerable software that has been exploited by attackers.
This is further evidenced through Willem discovering additional types of malware alongside CoinHive’s code, with “80% of cryptomining stores also contain payment skimming malware.” This is the main reason that shopping sites are targeted, as it gives attackers the means to get user’s card details. “Apparently, cyberthieves are squeezing every penny out of their confiscated assets,” continues de Groot.
When entering an affected website, the user’s computer will begin to experience a lot more stress than normal, with processors ramping up to 95 percent usage simply while browsing a site. Beyond this, electricity bills will begin to spike, with prolonged periods resulting in a costly expense for the unsuspecting visitor. This is much more than an invasion of privacy, but outright theft.
Fortunately, users can protect themselves. Willem notes that you can “Use an adblocker or install a Chrome plugin or add
127.0.0.1 coin-hive.com coinhive.com to your hosts file,” as well as using Magento Malware Scanner to which de Groot has courteously added detection signatures for CoinHive.
KitGuru Says: At least The Pirate Bay conducts it in a forthright manner, while attempting to balance processor usage in favour of itself and its users. These attacked websites will unfortunately take you for all you’ve got. Have you noticed your CPU running higher or PC hotter than normal?