Cryptojacking Is Declining as Ads Generate More Revenue, Research Shows

  • Traditional ads generate 5.5 times more revenue than running "cryptojacking" scripts. 
  • Despite less profitability, cryptojacking scripts increased 450 percent in Q4 2018

Despite the increased prevalence of ‘cryptojacking’ websites, academic research has shown that its an inefficient and less profitable way to generate revenue compared to traditional advertising. 

Cryptojacking & Drive-By Mining

Cryptojacking scripts, which involve websites using the computer resources of page visitors to mine cryptocurrency in the background, have gained a fair amount of attention over the last year. Some also refer to the process as ‘drive-by mining’. 

While cryptojacking may be less malicious than outright ransomware, the process has still been universally condemned as an inappropriate way for websites to generate revenue, even if some users are largely unaware that the process is occurring. 

However, academic research has shown that cryptojacking is still an inefficient model when compared to traditional advertising, and that web-based cryptocurrency mining, in general, may become a thing of the past. 

According to the report, cryptojacking saw a massive spike in Q4 2019 as ransomware attacks subsided, 

“This new type of attack is the well-known cryptojacking, which had a 35% share of all web threats last year. Specifically, when ransomware attacks declined by 45% in fourth quarter of 2018 in comparison to the first quarter of the same year, cryptojacking attack incidents  quadrupled by 450% in the same time-frame.”

The researchers from the University of Crete and the University of Illinois at Chicago determined that a website using three ads alone would make 5.5 times the revenue of cryptojacking scripts.

In addition, sites relying upon web-based mining were required to keep a user on its page for more than 5.53 minutes in order to become profitable. This process was complicated by the scripts gobbling up 59 times more of the user’s CPU than a traditional advertisement, which led to computer slowdown and a less than ideal experience by the page viewer. 

Burning User Resources

Cryptojacking puts a significant strain on the viewer's hardware, consuming 2.08x more energy on average while leading to an increase of 52.8 percent in hardware temperature while running the mining script.  

The study concluded, 

"The intensive resource utilization of web-cryptomining libraries imposes a significant cost on the user’s device, thus accelerating the deterioration of its hardware. To make matters worse, this heavy utilization also limits the scalability and profitability of web-cryptomining, since the more websites adopt miners the less portion of resources each of them can acquire from a user that keeps multiple tabs open."

While certain websites may continue to run and benefit from web-based mining in the background, the overall efficiency of cryptojacking compared to traditional advertising makes it wasteful on behalf of both the producer and consumer.