How to stop sites from ‘borrowing’ your CPU to mine cryptocurrency

How to stop sites from ‘borrowing’ your CPU to mine cryptocurrency

Over the weekend, torrent portal The Pirate Bay was caught running a cryptocurrency miner on its website, queitly hijacking visitors’ computing resources to stack Monero coins, TorrentFreak reported.

The Pirate Bay has since confessed its sins on its official blog, claiming the JavaScript mining implementation was “only a test” as part of their efforts to “get rid of all the ads” clustered on their site. “[W]e also need enough money to keep the site running,” the admins said.

But should you feel this excuse isn’t cutting it for you – and if you want to stop other websites from doing the same – there are measures you can take to prevent sites from piggybacking on your CPU resources.

Available for Chrome, minerBlock and No Coin are handy browser extensions specifically designed to block popular crypto miners from using your computing power.

What’s especially handy is that, similar to an ad-blocker, you can choose to remove certain sites from your list of blocked domains in case you want to deliberately lend your CPU for usage.

Those interested in more technical details can look up the source code for minerBlock and No Coin (respectively) here and here; both are available on GitHub.

One thing to keep in mind, when making the decision whether or not to get one of these extensions, is that crypto miners – like Coinhive, the solution implemented by The Pirate Bay – is that they are hard to spot by users; until, of course, you start noticing the sharp increase in CPU usage.

Next to these solutions, you can also try using JavaScript-blocking extensions like NoScript (for Firefox) or ScriptSafe (for Chrome). Another alternative is to manually add the cryptominers in question to your list of blocked domains in ad-blocker.

There is nothing inherently wrong with experimenting with alternative models to generate revenue. Where The Pirate Bay (and any other sites that do the same) err, though, is failing to alert its users of this “test” in advance. Putting this aside and factoring in its awful ads, such sites might actually be onto something.

But as Motherboard so adeptly summed it up, everything ultimately comes down to user consent: It’s a choice between trading in your privacy (ads) or computing power (miners) for the right to use a service.

Still, given that The Pirate Bay is hardly the only one busted for surreptitiously borrowing users’ CPU to mine crypto, the more concerning aspect here is that there are probably a pile of shady sites out there running the same scheme.

Now at least you know how to defend your device’s battery against these shifty practices.

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China’s Bitcoin bans are speed-bumps on the journey, but don’t stop believing

China’s Bitcoin bans are speed-bumps on the journey, but don’t stop believing

We’d need a slide-whistle to give the sound-effect to go with a graphic of Bitcoin’s value over the last 24 hours. The news from China that one of the most popular exchanges in the country will stop trading Bitcoin by October has the world’s most popular cryptocurrency losing some of its recently gained ground.

The sky, however, is not falling (probably) — Bitcoin dropped from nearly $4,000 to almost $3,400 in the past, and now it’s hovering at $3,500.

Yesterday TNW reported that a few hiccups, like condemnation from JP Morgan’s CEO and an outright ICO ban in China, were affecting Bitcoin’s ability to rally. Today’s news involving China’s crackdown on Bitcoin exchanges shouldn’t surprise anyone – in fact we’re likely to see further restrictions from the country by the end of the year.

The quick-take for today’s report is that you should sell Bitcoin if you’re feeling bearish and believe that a $3,000 settling point is a viable outcome. If you’re undaunted by the recent plummet — which is the largest since June 20 – there’s another option: buy more.

Bitcoin, like any other commodity, is subject to the normal rules of confidence and speculation. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, believes that Bitcoin will fail because, as he puts it, “it’s entirely based on speculation.”

One of the differences between Bitcoin and currency is that it costs $3,500 to make one right now, whereas it costs less than $0.01 to make a dollar bill. The only speculation is in market value – but there are people beyond investors using Bitcoin.

We can’t entirely blame China, as there’s more than one reason for the recent drop:

  1. China, of course, but the future is still uncertain. We’ll probably see more bans out of China before the month is through, and more still before the year is out. Those who remain bullish will have to learn to take further bumps from the East in stride.
  2. The near $5,000 record-high in August was bound to shake some early investors (and short-term ones without nerve) from the Bitcoin tree. CoinDesk concludes that this is part of an expected correction after the big surge.
  3. Bitcoin has a higher entry price than any other coin making it exponentially more susceptible to investor confidence shakeups.

Bitcoin is down 19% month-over-month, which might be cause for concern, if you’ve only recently invested and were planning on cashing out quickly. If that’s the case for you it might be worth holding on for another surge. When the Bitcoin blockchain forked people went running for the hills and caused a similar drop. Those people missed out on the chance to sell at an all-time high when it rallied back within days.

Over the course of this coming weekend most experts are predicting a few more dips in value, so it may be time to brace yourself against the onslaught and “HODL” (crypto-nerd speak for “hold”) out for another surge.

Call me crazy (@mrgreene1977 on Twitter, if you’d like to) but I still see $10,000 in Bitcoin’s future, despite China raining on the money-parade.

Full disclosure: I’m an optimist. You shouldn’t take financial advice from optimists (or anyone else) unless they are qualified financial advisers, which I’m not.

BTCC to Cease China Trading as Media Warns Closures Could Continue
on Coin Desk

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JP Morgan CEO’s Bitcoin rant causes hiccup in cryptocurrency value

JP Morgan CEO’s Bitcoin rant causes hiccup in cryptocurrency value

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon set off a market slide when he called Bitcoin a “fraud” that would “blow up” earlier this week at a conference. The price of Bitcoin – already slumped over 10 percent off word China may ban cryptocurrency – further dropped to $3,772, the lowest it’s been in a month, after Dimon’s remarks. If he’s to be believed, the end of Bitcoin is nigh.

Then again, reports of Bitcoin’s demise may have been exaggerated. Bitcoin sits at $3,894 as of Wednesday afternoon and its all-time high is less than $5,000. For perspective, six months ago Bitcoin was at another all-time high, $1,223, and half-a-year before that its high was around $600.

This isn’t the first time that Dimon has declared Bitcoin dead either; in 2015 he said there was no way a government would allow Bitcoin to challenge local currency. At the time of his condemnation Bitcoin was worth $334.

If you had then ignored Dimon and purchased 10 Bitcoin in November of 2015 — spending less than you would for one Bitcoin now — your investment would be worth over $300K. Hindsight is always 20/20, though, and we’d all be millionaires if we could see the future.

While it’s possible the news out of China, including a ban on ICOs, could continue to shake confidence, even Dimon admits that the technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain, isn’t going anywhere. That means cryptocurrency has a platform – and right now Bitcoin is the king of that platform.

Reportedly Dimon threatened to fire any company traders who traded in Bitcoin, and he continues to compare the cryptocurrency to “tulip mania”, referring to a period in Dutch history where market demand for the exotic new flower swelled prices for its bulbs to epic proportions before eventually plummeting.

Noone can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy — and you should consult a financial adviser before making investment decisions – but if the past is any indicator, Dimon’s warning should be interpreted as the opening bell for buyers.

If the CEO of JP Morgan can increase the value of Bitcoin 10 fold every 24 months by predicting its imminent demise, the price of tulips is still on the way up.

Perhaps the best way to look at his remarks comes from JP Morgan’s Blockchain lead, Amber Baldet, in response to Dimon’s comments.

Bitcoin at crossroads after shedding nearly $20 billion in value
on Market Watch

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What the fork is SegWit? Everything you need to know about Bitcoin scaling

What the fork is SegWit? Everything you need to know about Bitcoin scaling

If you’ve been wondering about why Bitcoin transactions have been slowing down lately, that’s because it is reaching its limit in terms of block size.

In August this year, the Bitcoin Core developers finally implemented SegWit on the Bitcoin Blockchain, thus making the platform faster and more scalable.

To put simply, the SegWit modification provides a way to get more transactions committed faster by changing which data is stored within each block and which is segregated. But to really understand what it means, let’s take a step back and understand the concept of the blockchain and what blocks are.

What is a block?

Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are essentially built out of blocks, which are a unit of information.

With the Bitcoin blockchain, each block has a limit of 1 MB. The blockchain is composed out of a series or “chain” of blocks, which make up the public ledger, a copy of which resides on all the Blockchain nodes. It’s an endless number of blocks being tied or chained to one another through a cryptographic hash.

A block consists of two parts: a header and a body. Within the block, there are different layers of data. The header stores a cryptographic hash of the previous block, along with a time signature and other data. The body stores the transactions, including sender data and receiver public keys, which help ensure that these are legitimate transactions.

The problem is that as transactions increase and become data-heavy, it clogs the blocks, which bogs down the network when demand is high. This becomes an increasing issue as more people start using Bitcoin and adopt the technology. In order for the Bitcoin to succeed and be useful, a solution to process the blocks faster is necessary.

This is called Bitcoin Scaling.

Credit: The Atlas