Media Outlet Salon To Use Visitors’ CPUs To Mine Cryptocurrency

News | February 14, 2018 By:

Digital media publication Salon is asking visitors to allow them to use their computers to mine cryptocurrencies as a new source of revenue.

The media outlet has updated its website to require users to disable their ad-blockers for the right to read articles – or alternatively, lend their CPU power to mine Monero, the thirteenth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Visitors who suppress ads with a blocker will now see a pop-up that asks them if they will give Salon access to their computers’ unused processing power.

“We’ve noticed you’re using an ad blocker,” the popup reads. “We depend on ads to keep our content free for you. Please consider disabling your ad blocker so we can continue to create the content you come here to enjoy.”

The publication’s mining efforts are powered by Coinhive, a JavaScript library that can be used by websites for mining Monero. Unfortunately, hackers have started abusing this tool by embedding this JavaScript code into browser extensions or programs. Coinhive has previously been discovered in Google’s DoubleClick ad services, the Ultimate Fighting Championship website, and TV network Showtime, among many others.

Cyber criminal seeks to use as much of a computer’s processing power as possible in order to maximize the return drawn from mining. But Salon said they will adjust how much processing power is being used by their crypto-miner.

“We automatically detect your current processing usage and assign a portion of what you are not using to this process,” Salon said. “Should you begin a process that requires more of your computer’s resources, we automatically reduce the amount we are using for calculations.”

The publication claims that the process only takes place when readers are on the website, and Salon will not gain access to readers’ personal information or files.

Salon said they decided to add this alternative to recoup lost ad revenue when visitors use an ad blocker. It added that they plan to further use any learning from this to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology, digital currencies, and other ways to better service the value exchange between content and user contribution.

“We want to be able to take a little bit of control back,” Salon CEO Jordan Hoffner told The Daily Beast. “And I can’t wait for someone else to come up with a solution for me. So we did it ourselves.”