Popular cryptocurrency mining operation CoinHive, has officially closed.  CoinHive’s product was a web browser-based cryptocurrency miner. The miner, a Javascript application, could be loaded into any website. It was very popular with cryptocurrency faucet websites. Most used it as an additional source of income while sharing part of the profits with users. Mainstream sites such as Salon.com and Unicef, also used CoinHive to increase income.

Why now?

The shutdown is due to declining profitability, according to a blog post on CoinHive’s website. According to CoinHive, “The drop in hash rate (over 50%) after the last Monero hard fork”, as well as the “crash” of crypto markets were the major contributing factors to the shutdown. Moreno (XMR), the currency CoinHive mined, has dropped 85% in the last year. Moreno’s decline follows the broader trend of declines in cryptocurrency value.

The dark side of CoinHive

When legitimately used, CoinHive was a way to make a little extra income. However, they also have quite a nasty reputation in the cybersecurity community. This reputation was the result of several websites running CoinHive without alerting the user. This allowed site owners to utilize the users CPU without their permission. addition, the scripts were very popular with cybercriminals. These criminals would hack into vulnerable websites, and load Coinhive into the sites code, without the site owner’s permission. This nefarious behavior is why CoinHive is blocked, or at least flagged, by many virus and security software products.

The writing was on the wall

It is no real surprise that this operation folded. Cryptocurrency mining, in general, has moved away from CPU mining, as it is mostly not a profitable venture. The difficulty level of the hashes has pushed mining onto custom equipment, designed for that purpose. I was a user of CoinHive through Faucet Hub. Although I never did it to make any real money, I did it for fun, and to increase my levels on that site.  I doubt I even made enough to cover the cost of the electricity I used to run my computer. CoinHive had a good ride, now we look to the future to see whhat, if anything, takes its place.