Website slow? Could be secret crypto-mining

Website slow? Could be secret crypto-mining

Online publication Salon announced in a blog post that the website will mine cryptocurrency with the unused processing power in a reader's computer when they turn on ad-blockers while reading the online magazine.

Salon is now asking those customers who don't want to see ads to use their computing power to mine cryptocurrency for them.

According to the Financial Times, the system will be powered by Coinhive, which uses a program that runs in the user's web browser to mine monero, a cryptocurrency with an emphasis on privacy and untraceability. Coinhive gets a bad rap because it can be used for illicit purposes, though the software is widely regarded as legitimate, as is the coin that it mines.

With ad-blocking technology increasingly in use, Salon faced a setback to its ad revenue. Essentially, users will be given a prompt to either view ads as normal or remove ads and allow their computer processor to be used in a Salon cryptocurrency miner.

The BBC says that Salon has not been targeted by cyber criminals and that the United States publication asks its readers for permission before using the mining tool.

Cyber criminal seeks to use as much of a computer's processing power as possible in order to maximize the return drawn from mining.

For our beta program, we'll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

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Noisy fans screeching into action when you visit the Salon website? In a tweet, he says that Salon is lying about having unused power. Coinhive "harnesses the CPUs of millions of PCs to mine the Monero crypto currency. This includes forums, small community sites where users happily give something back and, of course, porn sites", a Coinhive representative said in an email.

Users being caught unaware shouldn't happen at Salon, which makes it clear that readers don't have to opt in to the mining and says that users' security isn't compromised.

"Block ads by allowing Salon to use your unused computing power", says Salon. There's no information about the software in Salon's frequently-asked questions (FAQs) page.

Making money out of online publishing can be a tricky process.

"We realize that specific technological developments now mean that it is not merely the reader's eyeballs that have value to our site - it's also your computer's ability to make calculations, too", it states. According to the Salon team, ad blockers "create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher".

Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner told Fortune that the new plan has several users already and the mining option is just one aspect of the company's monetisation strategies; another of which is a paid tablet and mobile app to come later in 2018.

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