The two sides of Monero (XMR) mining have shown themselves recently. Around the same time that Change.org announced the launch of a new Monero mining screensaver, the popular gaming
network League of Legends fell prey to a Coinhive hack. With the incidents showing both the positive and negative sides of the crypto world, many are now questioning the structure of Monero’s mining process. In the wake of the latest incident, Josh Grunzweig, a researcher at Palo Alto Networks, said that 5% of the all the XMR coins in circulation are the result of hacking incidents.
The Light and Dark Sides of Monero Mining
Even more concerning for crypto enthusiasts is that the League of Legends hack threatened to overshadow the positive impact mining can have. In an effort to raise money for Change.org’s work in Brazil, the company recently launched a fundraising screensaver. Developed by TracyLocke Brazil, the screensaver taps into a user’s CPU processing power whenever the computer is idle. According to the charity, 10,000 connected PCs mining for 12 hours per day would generate approximately $10,000 in donations.
The system is similar to the one launched by UNICEF at the end of April. By “donating” between 20% and 80% of their processing power, people were able to raise money for the organization’s work with vulnerable children. Commenting on the innovation, UNICEF Australia’s director of fundraising Jennifer Tierney said that leveraging “emerging technologies to raise awareness” for all sorts of issues is great for charities. In fact, it’s not only indirect donations that have come from the crypto space over the last 12 months. Back in March, OmiseGO (OMG) and Ethereum (ETH) used the latter’s decentralized network to make donations simpler. By using the Ethereum network to facilitate large overseas transfers, OMG was able to give $1 million to the refugee charity GiveDirectly.
However, for all the good cryptos are capable of, they remain vulnerable. Even before Monero’s market value hit $4.3 billion in February 2018, the number of hacks was on the up. In December, Bloomberg reported that 190,000 WordPress sites per hour were being targeted by hackers to illegally mine XRM. Since then, government websites, messaging services and Android devices have all been in the firing line of Monero hackers. In defense of Monero, supporters will point to similar incidents with other coins. In June, Elon Musk became the latest victim of an Ethereum Twitter scam that duped users into signing up to fraudulent sites. However, XRM has become one of the main targets in recent months.
Security a Concern but Positives Still Outweigh the Negatives
For the industry as a whole, security remains an ever-present problem. With the value of new coins increasing at a much quicker rate than the technology itself, hackers have taken advantage of cracks in the system. Updates from the likes of Monero, Ethereum and Ripple have helped stem the tide. However, with cybercriminals attacking from all sides, addressing all the issues at once isn’t easy. Fortunately for those invested in cryptos, help is coming from the outside.
December 2017 saw Opera announce the launch of an anti-cryptojacking feature designed to prevent criminals from using the Opera browser to mine coins illegally. The company has since followed that up with a new browser-based wallet that will not only offer a more accessible storage system but a more secure one. Similarly, Windows users can install the open-source Anti-WebMiner, a program that prevents mining scripts from running. Beyond individual pieces of software, regulation is and will remain one of the major milestones for cryptocurrencies, exchanges and any company connected to the industry. By having to comply with established regulatory standards, security will naturally improve and, in turn, offer users and non-users more protection.
In spite of the recent innovations, Coinhive itself has said that it will struggle to completely curb Monero mining hacks due to the way in which the system is designed. Although the hacks aren’t as destructive as some others, they are overshadowing the positive uses of this technology. However, as Change.org becomes the latest organization to embrace cryptos, it’s important to remember that the downsides to mining are small in comparison to its upsides.