Rampant cryptocurrency mining conducted by four popular streaming websites may have impacted as many as one billion website visitors, research firm AdGuard has warned.
Four popular streaming sites may have generated up to $320,000 a month by conducting cryptocurrency mining without informing users about such activities.
Originating in August this year, cryptocurrency mining has quickly evolved into crypto-jacking, which means that websites and firms are now conducting cryptocurrency mining on user devices by exploiting device resources without informing such users about their activities.
According to security firm AdGuard, while ad blockers were initially able to intercept clandestine cryptocurrency mining and block such activities using new security updates, it recently observed that four very popular streaming websites were secretly conducting cryptocurrency mining and avoiding ad blockers at the same time.
The said websites- Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo, and OnlineVideoConverter, enjoy as many as 992 million visits monthly and as per AdGuard, make as much as $326,000 every month combined by secretly conducting cryptocurrency mining.
'Three of the four sites provide the function of media players that are embedded on third-party sites. We doubt that all the owners of these sites are aware that the hidden mining has been built into these players. All four sites place a miner on pages where users spend a large amount of time,' the firm noted.
'The popularity of crypto-jacking has grown with alarming speed. Just think about it; we are talking about billions of visits, and it has been just a few months since this problem first appeared. It's like an epidemic, and it is unclear when it will stop or even slow down,' it added.
To stop or to slow down websites and online services from conducting secret crypto-jacking, the firm says that Internet users should use advanced ad blockers, antivirus software or specialised extensions to detect software running in the background. However, at the moment, utilising browser level security mechanisms could be the best approach towards ending the menace as such mining originates within browsers themselves.