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More and more websites are mining crypto-coins in your browser to pay their bills, line pockets

This post has been deleted by its author

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

Me too. C'mon Reg, how does the maths work out? Can cryptomining generate enough to profitably run a website? You know many of your readers run script and adblockers, that hurts you - yet its not because we're freeloaders, its for security and because of the bloated and intrusive shite that advertisers seem to love.

What are the CPU load and user implications? Can it scale, or do the economics fail if most web sites tried it? How difficult would it be to trial it on The Register? Offer readers running an adblocker the choice of paying their way with cryptomining, and see how that works. I'm up fot it.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

After discussion, the two main concerns remaining here are: (1) Limiting task cpu cycles both per site and in toto. (2) Hijacking of approved sites by others. Other than that, it seems to me that it's actually a threat reduction for the site owner when compared to the threats of malvertising and other hijacks.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

I'm up for a test run here as well.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

@Ledswinger

I don't think it's about being profitable from just mining. I think that everything adds up. If you get 5% of your funds from it then that's 5% you don't have to worry about getting from elsewhere and you don't have to put effort in. It may make the difference between breaking even and making a tiny profit. Though my sites don't have ads or any of this and won't (unless I see them making a whole load of money and not annoying anyone)

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

You know many of your readers run script and adblockers

... and most of them will be running a Chromium derivative or FireFox, rather than (shonky old junk like) IE or Safari and that means webworkers are in play. You can therefore offload the mining to the background and use setTimeout/postmessage to ensure that the UI isn't significantly impacted (JS does Win16 era multi-processing -yay!)

I'm up for this too. I'm one of the subset of refuseniks who run uBlock/AdGuard but don't use NoScript because I build web stuff myself and (being a programmer rather a DTP operator), my own "websites" are giant .JS files with render functions rather than HTML pages.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

and most of them will be running a Chromium derivative or FireFox, rather than (shonky old junk like) IE or Safari

I, for one, wasn't, but El Reg started crashing Midori at launch about 2 weeks ago, so on this machine I was forced to switch to FF... thankfully xombrero is still fine with whatever piece of client-side tomfoolery El Reg is now up to (perhaps bitcoin mining ?) so my usual machines are still Firefox-free

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

Midori is a WebKit wrapper and that makes it unreliable with ad blockers (particularly uBlock) in my experience, and places it behind the curve on JS and HTML standards (just like Safari). I've got it on some Raspberry Pi installs. It seems fine for what it is, but my main PCs are development platforms so only Blink or Gecko will do. I actually have Lynx on one machine. I keep it there just so I can say "I've got Lynx on one machine" ;)

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

> How difficult would it be to trial it on The Register? Offer readers running an adblocker the choice of paying their way with cryptomining, and see how that works. I'm up fot it.

You guys clearly missed the memo.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

You guys clearly missed the memo.

Well done, I'd forgotten about that. Interesting thing is that the Reg publish that as an April fool's joke, and a few months later there's people actually doing it.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

I've disabled my adblocker on El Reg, the ads aren't that intrusive, and I'd prefer to see some ads than have my CPU fan whirring away at full speed.

Actually I'd really prefer to just pay the monetary equivalent of what the ads/mining would have earned.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

"Me too. C'mon Reg, how does the maths work out?"

It's a trivial web search to find the answer. Coin mining is three or four orders of magnitude less profitable than advertising for a general interest site, worse for a specialist site like El Reg.

And it would, of course, be cheaper for the reader just to pay a subscription (unless you're stealing power from your employer).

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

OK – what if – and this is just a wild idea so try to stay with me on this – but what if we had some sort of way of keeping track of who owes who what in society – perhaps represented by some sort of 'token' or something – and those tokens were universal and exchangeable and didn't represent any specific kind of work or service or anything – and people could just give other people these tokens in return for work/services etc. – I don't know – we could call it work-E, or stuff-E, maybe 'mon-E' or something – and what if – when people consume content and services online they gave the people providing the content and services a small amount of this 'mon-E', and then all this tortuous stuff with corporate surveillance and having to fund sites via adverts paid for by companies that might perhaps one day sell us some product or service, or having (in this case) to effectively take peoples' electricity in a hopelessly inefficient way in order ultimately to pay for the electricity running their servers (among other things), all this could just be bypassed, and the consumer could pay the content provider with the 'mon-E' directly, roughly in proportion to what they consume at the point of consuming it? Crazy idea I know.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

While this is my general attitude to the crypto-currency craze, I also have an aversion to giving my credit card number to every site out there, or requiring a login for them all, which they will inevitably harvest as much information as possible from either way. (Looking at you BBC iplayer radio app...)

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

The problem with pages running coin mining scripts is that if you open lots of tabs they may all be consuming CPU cycles, even if each of them works responsibly and limits it's own usage, cumulatively it will hog all your resources. If this goes forward as a legit procedure, then browsers need to pause those scripts on inactive tabs while allowing other to go on (you may not want to stop the radio tab from playing music of losing new mail alerts)

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

It is with some guilt, and more than a little regret, that advertising on El Reg is blocked here.

The annoyance factor of most ads is but a minor part of it.

The eating up of my data limit by adverts for stuff I'm not even remotely interested in is a minor part of it (although the data size of the advert is often more than the article, compared to my other usage it's relatively small).

Hijacking my speakers, interrupting what I was listening to and requiring a frantic scrabble for the mute, is a larger part of it.

Making my system cripplingly slow is a big part of it.

Crashing my browser is the main reason. Every so often, guilt persuades me to unblock El Reg. Within a week (often the same day), some fucking advert crashes my browser. I often have quite a lot of browser windows/tabs open at the time (what I was working on prior to deciding I needed a break), and this is really fucking annoying. Yes, usually I can restore session, but that takes a while and sometimes results in the same ad crashing the browser again.

Bitcoin mining would stop the minor annoyances (data use, speaker hijacking, annoyance of advertising). As long as it played nice (very nice, as in unix nice) with my system, I'm fine with that (it can have 100% CPU while I'm not doing anything, but as soon as I do anything it has to give me priority). As long as it doesn't need so much memory that my system goes into a paroxysm of thrashing pages in and out, I'm fine with that. I suffer a minor increase in my power bill and El Reg gets some money - seems great.

Ideally it would be implemented as a user-configurable choice: accept advertising or mine for bitcoin or pay a subscription (I'm thinking of wider implementation than just El Reg here).

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

Don't like the idea of my browser mining crypto-currency, largely due to the clandestine nature in which it's invoked. It's not a "free" resource either - over time and enough machines it would be seen on your leccy bill.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

I second that choice of cryptomining over adverts..... On the odd occasion I follow a link - using IE - that that takes me to articles on the Daily Express, Telegraph or any local rag's website, the sheer volume, and bad coding of, adverts spins my CPU usage and therefore cooling fan up by at least 30% or 40%.

At least with crypto-mining I'd not have to be wading through a load of visual and audible crap to find the actual articles while my laptop starts scalding my legs.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

... when people consume content and services online...

What if we manage to get over the 'consume' and 'content' and such bull?

I'm consuming gas and electricity, food, drinks and suck. I read/watch/listen web pages/videos.

I know youi're trying to make us believe it should be treated like tangible goods so you can cry 'thief' when we dare NOT pay through our nose for it, but still...

/OK, steam blown off, what are we talking about here?

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

Ideally it would be implemented as a user-configurable choice: accept advertising or mine for bitcoin or pay a subscription or block the sh... out.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

Remember back in the 90s when micropayments were supposed to be the future? Somehow that never took off, even now with the advent of cryptocurrencies. Perhaps it's the idea of paying for something you currently get for free. Or your web browser being tricked into giving away your money.

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Re: Advertisers won't be happy.

@Alumoi - I agree 'consume' is not a great word in this context. I didn't accuse anyone of theft – that word came from you. I guess you'd agree that this stuff doesn't cost nothing to create/produce and that the infrastructure to support it costs something to run – so the money has to come from somewhere to create decent content, otherwise we all get shit entertainment and shit journalism. I don't want you (or me) to have to 'pay through the nose' for anything, but at the moment the money for 'free services' is effectively being forced out of our noses anyway by the corporate-surveillance activities of the advertising-industrial-complex with the middle men taking almost all the money simply for sticking adverts on content made by other people and tracking us as we look/read/consume that content to siphon off our very souls to sell to the highest bidder – the middle men make *huge* profits doing this, and as far as I can see those profits are outrageously disproportionate given what they are adding in terms of actual utility or social good – and some of the side effects of their activities are arguably socially corrosive. I was suggesting that we could perhaps cut out the middle men and instead pay small amounts as *directly* as possible to the sites we use (read/watch/listen/consume – whatever) at the point we use them (enough at least to cover the running costs and content production costs so as to keep decent creators and journalists in business and not have them in thrall to advertisers and SV middle men) – and if you strip most of that middle-man stuff out I don't think we would actually have to pay very much at all – and I'm sure that could be managed without having to have multiple subscriptions and fragmentation or walled gardens. There'd be lots of hissy fits but I think both sides are going to have to compromise.

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Maybe this is not a bad thing

Given a choice of paying with my eyeballs and personal information, or paying with a little bit of my CPU time / electricity, I'll choose the latter!

Maybe some web sites should drop advertising, be up front about how readers are paying for their content, and see how it goes. What say you, El Reg? :)

Sure this isn't "green" (though where I live 1/3 of my electricity is generated by wind, so it would be 1/3rd green) but neither are all those flashing ads, autoplay videos and other crap.

This would have the advantage for news/review sites of removing any incentive for bias.

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Hijack the hijack?

Would it be possible to use the code in my browser but divert the result to my own 'account'. My Pc has lots of spare cycles.

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Re: Hijack the hijack?

You wouldn't want to run a Javascript miner, you'd want to get one written in C for greater efficiency, or better yet runs on a discrete GPU if you have one. It is questionable whether it would pay for the electricity it uses, though if you have electric heat and it is cool enough inside then that's a better way of heating your home than a resistance element.

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Re: Hijack the hijack?

Re. Using the GPU. Chrome can use the GPU, but I seem to recall turning off that feature after reading a Reg article about it being a security risk. I think. It was a year or so ago, and my memory is vague.

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Re: Using the GPU... turning off that feature ... my memory is vague.

Maybe you tinkered with the RAM settings too.

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Re: Hijack the hijack?

You wouldn't want to run a Javascript miner, you'd want to get one written in C for greater efficiency, or better yet runs on a discrete GPU if you have one.

With Monero (which is what's being mined in most of these cases) there's very, very little advantage to using a GPU over a CPU - it was specifically designed to limit the advantage.

But, yes, a miner written in C (or in fact, almost any other language) will be more efficient that one running within the browser, even as Web Assembler.

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This post has been deleted by its author

This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

But electricity cost more in Britain than other places, so we are being discriminated against.

Rip off Britain strikes again.

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Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

I have a feeling that you might remember the days of the Miners Strikes, do you?

Well this is a different type of Miner, and a different kind of Strike.

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Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

"But electricity cost more in Britain than other places, so we are being discriminated against."

Erm, you what now? Apart from the fact that there's no VAT on power costs in the UK (last I checked), the UK has cheaper power than Germany, Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Sweden.

No discrimination here. Massive gouging by utility companies I'm sure, but that's always been the plan with privitisation.

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Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

@ MonkeyCee

VAT is charged on power here in UK (has been for years) but it's only at 5% rather than the full 20%.

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Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

the UK has cheaper power than Germany, Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Sweden.

That's true when you look at domestic customers, and include taxes. In many other EU countries, the costs of energy policies are recovered through specific taxes added to bills. In the UK, most policy costs are imposed in different ways on energy companies, and recovered through pricing, so it appears that UK energy taxes are a lot lower, and rising prices aren't all the government's fault. In practice, people end up paying for all of the politician's climate change toys, so what counts is those final costs including taxes.

However, there is one area where the UK has by far the highest energy costs in the EU, and that's for large energy users. UK electricity prices for large users are roughly double those in France.

As with all UK government policy, employers are frowned upon, and there's no concern about the fact that the UK is pricing itself out of business.

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Re: This post is a work of satire and should not be taken seriously

@Ken

Alive during, yes.

Old enough to remember, no.

(I get the feeling some people didn't read the title)

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Happy

Cryptomining vs Adverts

I would happily support cryptomining only if the website says that it is how they are funded. Also, it has to be such that the script cannot be hijacked by others. If a website does not mention that they are funded by cryptomining, then I would block it in an instant.

The advertising industry have shot themselves in the foot with all those dreadful campaigns from the early days of advertising; I am talking about the monkey one. Now they are filled with dodgy malware spreading campaign. If El Reg or the Guardian website was funded by cryptomining, then I would be glad to help, only if it was sanctioned by them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cryptomining vs Adverts

If El Reg or the Guardian website was funded by cryptomining, then I would be glad to help, only if it was sanctioned by them.

Unlike the Register, the Guardian has an online subscription, or the option to make voluntary one off or even regular non-subscription payments. You could support them for as little as £5 a year. Ignoring that it has become a curated collection of global hippy news, why aren't you doing your bit, yer tightwad?

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Re: Cryptomining vs Adverts

If the Grauniad were funded by cryptomining, I'd write a script to send them incorrect data.

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Declaration of use

Ethically I feel that sites using this concept have a duty to declare that user's CPU power is being siphoned off in this way. What happens if you leave your browser on a page that does mining, will the page force keep-alive to continue mining? If your connection is metered then effectively you've just poured your money into the miner's coffers.

You're also going to get the situation where several mining operations will be taking place at the same time, which will kill normal work. Miner's will do well to enforce a "one browser, one mining session" limit before they attract bad publicity.

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Re: Declaration of use

Well, between 4 autoplaying videos + riduculous ammounts of javascript, I would change that for a 20% gpu mining thing.. but then, after 5 tabs my browser would not work...

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Bringing browsers to their knees

Nothing seems to be able to bring a browser to its knees as effectively as badly-configured Bootstrap and a bunch of advertising plug-ins, so agreed, perhaps this isn't such a bad thing. Less intrusive in every way.

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Anonymous Coward

Every cycle is sacred

Every cycle is good

If a cycle is wasted....

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Devil

Re: Every cycle is sacred

"Every cycle is sacred

Every cycle is good

If a cycle is wasted...."

...thou shalt pay with thy blood...?

Ehhh, gotta lay off the Necronomicon as light late-night lecture...

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Every Hertz is Sacred

I'm reminded of a time when our former CTO wanted everything in VMware, and there were various factions doing distributed computing in different ways...

Every Hertz is sacred

Every Hertz is great

If a Hertz is wasted

God gets quite irate

Let the Griddies spill theirs

On the dusty ground

God shall make them pay

For every Hertz that can't be found

Every Hertz is wanted

Every Hertz is good

Every Hertz is needed

In your neighbourhood

Windows, Linux, MacOS

Spill theirs just anywhere

But God loves those who share their

Hertz on VMware

Every Hertz is sacred

Every Hertz is great

If a Hertz is wasted

God gets quite irate

Every Hertz is sacred

Every Hertz is good

Every Hertz is needed

In your neighbourhood

Every Hertz is useful

Every Hertz is fine

God needs everybody's

Mine And mine And mine

Let the Griddies spill theirs

O'er mountain, hill and plain

God shall strike them down for

Every Hertz that's spilt in vain

Every Hertz is sacred

Every Hertz is good

Every Hertz is needed

In your neighbourhood

Every Hertz is sacred

Every Hertz is great

If a Hertz is wasted

God gets quite irate

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Anonymous Coward

It is practical?

While it is technically possible to cryptomine with a website, but how much resources are used until the users are affected?

Like will it slowdown a video buffer to the point the users wait for years to watch a video? Or if you pickup an iPad to the washroom, would it use all it's resource / overheat the device?

If in the end it affects the users, we'll end up getting new cryptomining blocker add-on instead, and we'll be back to square one with ads on the website.

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Wikipedia should do this

If Wikipedia asked me to opt to allow them to mine on my CPU, I'd click it in second. Much better than their donation drives that guilt me into donating then still don't leave me alone.

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Paying for a site?

Some sites I use ask for donations to keep them running, and in a few cases I have donated (Grauniad etc). I prefer that to turning ABP off.

Bitcoin mining seems relatively non-irritating.

Could El Reg invite no-string donations? We all love the site, and our days would be darker (if slightly more productive) without it. But we ain't going to kill our adblockers! £10/€10/$10 could get a bronze star badge, £50 a silver and £100 a gold. We could start competing for who gets the most stars.

I'd happily pay many pennies a month for El Reg.

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M7S

Not harmless if this kind of thing spreads to pay for "normal" websites

I believe some countries have taken steps to ban these kinds of currencies (IIRC Russia and China head the list). If other countries do the same, then if a user sat in a jurisdiction that has banned cryptocurrencies inadvertently runs some of these cycles on their PC, could they be in trouble for unauthorised financial processing in some way?

Remember there are countries that lock up rape victims for unlawful sexual intercourse, so having some humourless official tell you it is your fault that your favourite social media site has changed its funding model and you're looking at doing time for something akin to money laundering might not be so far fetched.....

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race to the bottom

Crypto currencies (like all I guess) are not intrinsically valuable. The value that they are ascribed is a function of supply and demand. Digital currencies increase computational complexity to maintain scarcety, so if these approaches to website funding are ever popularised, the complexity will shoot up or the value generated will plummet. The pie will simply be divided more ways.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: race to the bottom

Crypto currencies (like all I guess) are not intrinsically valuable..

Yep, just like real money, and even gold, really. Although gold does have actual uses

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