Cryptomining, or cryptocurrency mining, is the process of using your computer's processing power to solve complex mathematical equations to earn digital cash. The "crypto" in cryptomining is short for cryptography, which refers to the code that needs to be solved to earn digital currency. Once the problem is solved, it is added to a public list of transactions called the blockchain. In exchange for doing this, people are rewarded with cryptocurrency- hence the term cryptocurrency mining.
What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is digital money. Bitcoin is the most well known but there are many others, including Ripple and Monero. You can use cryptocurrency to buy goods online, send money to friends, or store it in a digital wallet. However, there are no physical coins or bills associated with cryptocurrency, so you can only use them online.
Unlike regular currency, cryptocurrencies are not created by national governments. These currencies often derive their value by how they can be used and how many "coins" are currently in circulation.
Is cryptomining safe?
There's nothing unsafe about using your computer to mine for cryptocurrencies. However, since it takes a high-speed internet connection and a really powerful computer to mine effectively, you may find that the costs of mining for cryptocurrencies are higher than whatever digital cash you may earn. In fact, one way you may notice unprompted cryptomining is that your computer is overworking its CPU (central processing unit), which can cause your computer to slow down.
Beyond safety, you should also consider other factors, from the cost of electricity to the cost of bandwidth, when trying to figure out if it mining will be profitable for you.
Is cryptomining associated with malware?
Unfortunately, yes. Since there is a lot of money to be made from mining for digital currencies, organized hackers have devised ways to use malware injected on your computer, or on some websites, to tell your computer to mine for digital currency without your consent. Any digital currency earned from these schemes are paid to the criminals themselves. These schemes are referred to as "malicious cryptomining" or "cryptojacking."
Why does AdBlock care about cryptocurrency?
Because of the hype around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, many reputable, as well as unscrupulous websites, have devised schemes for tricking your computer into cryptocurrency mining (usually without telling you).
There are other tools, called "cryptojackers," that use your computer to passively mine for coins without your knowledge. Cryptojackers are a form of malware that are often associated with well-coordinated groups of criminals organizing fraud at a massive scale.
What can I do to protect myself from cryptocurrency mining malware?
You may have heard the stories of popular websites hiding cryptomining software on their sites to sneakily mine for cryptocurrency from visitors. The most high-profile examples were the popular torrent downloading website, The Pirate Bay, and two websites operated by Showtime.
AdBlock utilizes a set of rules, called the Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) Mining Protection List, to help it determine where to block ads and trackers on most websites. This filter list is enabled by default when you install AdBlock.
This same list also provides protection against the technologies used by malicious websites to force your computer to mine for cryptocurrency without your consent. With AdBlock installed, you will be protected from any website that's trying to use your computer resources to mine for cryptocurrency without your consent.