Reports suggest that the chances of users’ internet browsers being targeted by selfish cryptocurrency miners have decreased significantly. Recently Malwarebytes, a leading antivirus solution provider, revealed that the number of crypto mining-related attacks against users worldwide dropped considerably. In fact, recent data indicates crypto mining malware attacks have dropped by as much as 79% from last year.
Mining Attacks Drop Significantly After Coinhive Shut Down
This, according to recent report from PCMag, which noted the main reason for the decline in the number of selfish mining attacks may be due to Coinhive, a leading provider of crypto mining software, shutting down in February of this year.
As detailed in the report, Coinhive’s miner was created using a simple pre-programmed script which users could install on their website or web-based applications. In the event that a web browser detected and executed the mining script, the miner would secretly begin using users' CPU resources, in order to mine the privacy-centric cryptocurrency Monero (XMR).
To prevent the use of Coinhive’s crypto mining scripts, antivirus solution developers had started to release software which would block the company’s miner from executing on users’ web browsers. Some browsers, including Brave, Firefox, and Opera, added built-in protection against these attacks.
Malwarebytes Reports Significant Drop In Cryptojacking Incidents
According to recent reports from Malwarebytes, its antivirus software has not been blocking as many crypto mining scripts as it was in previous months. Jerome Segura, a researcher working at the firm, stated:
We went from tens of millions of blocks to an estimated two million per day.
Launched in 2017, Coinhive’s mining software became increasingly popular as it was widely used by individuals and organizations throughout the world to mine cryptocurrencies (mostly XMR) by using the CPU resources of website users, often without their consent, in a trend that became known as cryptojacking.
While some websites used Coinhive's script as an alternative to ads, most were either hacked or used them without wwarning their users.
Coinhive Shut Down Over Market Downturn
Coinhive’s management announced earlier this year it would be shutting down as it claimed it was no longer profitable to run a business during the prolonged crypto bear market. Additionally, it revealed a XMR hard fork made it more challenging to mine the privacy-focused cryptocurrency.
XMR is currently trading at around $61.23 according to CryptoCompare data, after having dropped from an all-time high of around $400 in early 2018.
Despite the decline in crypto mining malware attacks, Segura revealed that several other programs similar to those offered by Coinhive have been launched. He noted:
In-browser mining has decreased overall, but there are some contenders such as CryptoLoot and CoinIMP. The big difference though is that the vast majority of sites that are loading those miners are torrent portals, or file-hosting services, as opposed to compromised websites like we used to see in the past.
Researchers at McAfee Antivirus aded that "the shutdown of Coinhive is not necessarily the driver. Issues stemming from the popularity of Monero, and declining mining profitability in general have likely played a much larger role in the decline of attacks."
The researchers added:
For example, Monero is battling custom, specialized miners taking up a large portion of the network and have forked their network in response. The specialized miners leave smaller miners, such as browsers, little room to profit.