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BitCoin Browser Security

Advertisements vs. Crypto Mining

ThePiratebay, Starbucks and others did it first they added Crypto miners to their pages which basically hijacks your CPU so that they get some profit out of it while you use their services or websites – but let’s talk about the changes it offers compared to traditional advertisements.

persistant-cryptomining
Higher CPU loads than usually mostly identify Browser mining but not always.

People are always tend to abuse services for their reasons to make money, show that such services are insecure or just for fun. However I want to show the pros and cons about the ‘mining hype’. And I also want to share my own opinion on this.

Ads or Crypo Mining?

What they both have im common is that the provider gets a benefit out of it like money or coins while you use their services, this in general is very much okay for me because instead to pay them directly and reveal my true identify it’s a lot of easier and in theory it won’t hurt anyone.

That’s the theory, sadly we not live in a world like this, so let’s check what both have in common:

  • Third-party providers are involved to offer ads or plugins to get the miners working.
  • Both have a negative traffic impact (not on the page you visit itself) moreover the content provider has to deal with higher bandwidth. The page of course also has more to load to display the ads and deliver the needed code but that’s nothing compared to what CDN’s like CloudFlare have to provide.
  • Website providers get money/coins.
  • Services are injected and traceable which means you get an unqiue fingerprint which not directly compromise your security, it’s one pice of the whole cake – some see this critical, personally I don’t – Remember that visiting a page always transmit your IP and of course meta data and you can fake this all day long it still is mostly unique. Tor ‘prevent’ this by offering the same fingerprint to every user.
  • Mostly there is no opt-out or you have to pay for premium content to remove the ads or load more/exclusive articles.

Adblockers

Modern adblockers can block both, ads and crypto miners with a filter list however this is a dying solution because the website you visit might change very often (like New York Times) or they detect your blocker which also makes you again fingerprintable. Compared to doing nothing this is anyway a good start because of the following reasons:

  • Adblocker reduce the amount of time to load the page.
  • You not need to care about filter lists because there getting updates automatically.
  • If lowers the surface attack because malware or dangerous scripts can’t be executed on per-Browser level.
  • You’re ISP could be happy because you overall use less traffic, which is a key if you’re not able to get your hands on unlimited data plans and even with it reduces the energy for their servers (less CPU% is required).

But what are the real problems? Well, you also not support people which you might want to support (like me?) because there depending on such things, overall Ads or miners are a great idea but as said earlier people tend to abuse such services, let’s check this:

  • Ads can be abused, because the Website usually not delivers them by himself, they using third-party CDN’s which means there is less control over it.
  • Malware can be spread without that anyone noticed it.
  • Higher CPU loads, to mine the coins or load the ads.
  • Annoying Sounds & Videos. Also it may prevent you from reading the news when there placed directly over it or in full-size.
  • Might track you.

So what is the problem?

Website owners should be responsible what they deliver and been punished if there injecting malware – this punishment in theory exist but it’s too slow and some pages obfuscating their imprint or hiding their owner contact address. Which makes it even harder to report them, of course you can submit the domain/URL but in that time he might already created a sub-domain to avoid all of this.

Ads and mining in general isn’t bad the real problem is that in most cases this was abused and there is not any page I found which directly offers toggles for it, this is a big problem, if it would be well documented and people would get informed how to support their favourite page then it would avoid a lot questions. But again we’re not in candy-land which means you mostly get automatically opt-in into everything if you like it or now. The Government might can help here when they would starting to listen to Browser developers because there some ideas to make a better and safer web.

Personally I prefer crypto mining over ads, because there are fully anonymous systems which doesn’t track anything available while this isn’t possible for ads marketing, simply because they need to check several things, like Browser resolution, if you’re connected to a mobile device and many more factors.

The thing is that because such things getting constantly abused, CDN’s like CloudFlare already started to ban crypto mining, which means if you use them as provider you not even get a chance to use mining instead of Ads. I see this critical because it restricts you possibilities and your right to do what you want – It’s kind of censorship but on the same time I understand that they simply want to prevent higher server/energy loads/costs.

And now?

At the end Advertising still makes the race and nothing changes, which is in my opinion sad, if there would be a toggle to opt-in/out on every page and a slider to control how strong you CPU should load I wouldn’t see a problem with mining I mean we have enough resources and it really could be an alternative but that’s not gonna happen.

Advertisements is here to stay, so at the end people using their adblockers to block every site and no one really wins because such people want quality articles for free (or everything for free) and they very rarely whitelist pages because it might be too complicated for them (it’s not) or they have a fear because there thinking the page might offer malware within the ads (which I understand).

It’s a shame that everything these days gets abused and people like me and other small pages not getting the needed support because of this.