Salon, the popular American news and opinion website, has started prompting readers with ad-blockers to allow Coinhive to run on their computer, software that uses the CPU computing power to mine Monero. This unannounced addition to their revenue stream was first noticed by Salon readers with high-quality adblockers. Upon entering the site, these readers were hit with a message to choose between ads or CPU mining.
According to the site, by selecting the “suppress ads” option, you will be opting-in your CPU’s computing power to contribute to their mining operation. Salon’s move into browser mining indicates a clear misunderstanding of the technology they have implemented. They state that their new system is using a reader’s “unused computing power”, but forcing a CPU to 100 percent capacity places stress on the computer, slows processing speed, and consumes power. Although Coinhive allows websites to designate the percentage of user’s unused CPU capacity to use, it appears Salon is pushing CPUs to 100 percent.
Salon’s decision has resulted in a great deal of Twitter backlash, as many see this move as an aggressive use of user’s hardware.
— Kenn White (@kennwhite) February 13, 2018
Jesus: "If you click 'learn more' to find out about the cryptocurrency mining, your computer immediately begins working for Salon before anyone can knowledgeably opt-in." https://t.co/VF2hcXafpU
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) February 13, 2018
It’s worth noting that Coinhive was not created with malicious intentions, and the technology itself is 100% legitimate. While the developers might have been naive with their vision of who would first adopt their code, the underlying premise of leveraging the blockchain for unique publishing revenue streams is intriguing.
This news dropped following reports early Tuesday morning that over 4,000 UK government computers were hacked using Coinhive’s code. We will monitor this situation closely to see if Salon bails on their plans for a grand mining operation after the backlash.