Coinhive, the cryptocurrency mining service, announced in a blog post that it will cease all its activities on March 8th, a day before a planned Monero (XMR) hard fork. Used to mine XMR coins on any type of consumer hardware, Coinhive allowed the hidden or known injection of a script to mine coins for small-scale gains.
According to the blog post, the mining service will cease its operations on March 8th, 2019, whilst the users’ dashboards will still be accessible until April 30th. The mining service cited multiple reasons for its decision, amongst which are the over 50% drop in hash rate following the last Monero (XMR) hard fork as well as the cryptocurrency market drop off, with the value of XMR having dropped over 85% within a year.
The blog post further adds that “this and the announced hard fork and algorithm update of the Monero network on March 9th has lead us to the conclusion that we need to discontinue Coinhive.”
Although Coinhive is not an inherently malicious code, it has become popular among hackers for hijacking. The mining service became the go-to solution for cyber-criminal gangs who proceeded to hack sites all over the internet and leave the Coinhive file configured to mine Monero for their accounts.
This practice became widely known under different names, such as “cryptojacking,” “in-browser mining,” or “drive-by mining” and it became a real problem in late 2017 and the first half of 2018, with Coinhive scripts ending up on government sites, live chat widgets, gaming mods, famous sites, fundraising campaigns, Youtube ads, ad networks, browser extensions, routers, mobile apps, and desktop applications. Subsequently, Coinhive was listed by many security firms as the top malicious threat to Internet users.
Earlier this month, tech giant Microsoft removed eight Windows 10 apps from its official app store after cybersecurity firm Symantec had discovered the presence of a secret XMR coin mining code. The firm’s analysis identified the strain of mining malware enclosed in the apps as being the web browser-based Coinhive XMR mining code.
Most recently, a report from cyber security research firm Kaspersky Labs disclosed that cryptojacking overtook ransomware as the biggest cybersecurity threat — particularly in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. Not only PC but also smartphone users are targeted by unauthorized mining software as from the 2016 to 2018 period, these type of attacks increased by 9.5%.