Cryptocurrency Mining Ads Sighted On YouTube: Report

Video giant YouTube is the latest site to be hit with reports of advertisements that secretly utilize unwitting users' computing power to mine cryptocurrency. According to a number of scattered international reports gathered by Ars Technica from Japan, France, Taiwan, Spain, and Italy, antivirus programs are finding cryptocurrency mining code running on users' computers when they go to YouTube. Most of the mining ads in question seem to be mining a type of cryptocurrency called Monero and are JavaScript-based, allowing them to do their work through a seemingly normal ad on any web page. YouTube, for its part, has yet to put out any sort of official statement about this phenomenon. Most of the information about the ads was gleaned by security analyst firm TrendMicro, as well as various antivirus programs such as Avast.

The problematic ads use publicly available JavaScript code from an entity called Coinhive. In these cases, the Coinhive service gets 30 percent of all profits. In cases found so far that weren't powered by Coinhive's code, attackers used their own JavaScript skills to cook up an in-page miner that would do what they needed it to do for free. Obviously, this also meant that they weren't limited to mining Monero. It's worth noting that Monero is resistant to ASIC mining, a common method that's used to mine Bitcoin. Monero can be built up slowly using an approach like this, and can in turn be traded for Bitcoin. These ads come in a number of different forms, running the gamut from a blank ad square to advertisements for fake antivirus programs. Affected users should notice their computers suddenly slowing down or see spikes in CPU and GPU usage if they own more powerful systems.

YouTube has had a rocky few months when it comes to advertising. The platform has suffered a number of PR crises that have spooked advertisers, including famous YouTuber Logan Paul uploading a video featuring a suicide victim, and a range of videos showing inappropriate and surreal content aimed at children. This is one of the first cases in a while of things going the other way, with malicious advertisers causing damage to the platform. Many of these advertisements are being caught and blocked by antivirus solutions, whereas their creators are likely to soon be banned from the platform.

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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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