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Trading Computer Hijacked to Mine Cryptocurrency


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Trading Computer Hijacked to Mine Cryptocurrency

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  #1 (permalink)
Fairfax VA
 
Experience: Beginner
Platform: NinjaTrader
 
Posts: 38 since Dec 2009
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My trading computer has been configured and tuned for performance and it typically runs at less than 10% CPU during the trading day. Recently, I checked the Windows Task Manager and saw that it was running continuously in the high 50s. Checking which process was using the CPU showed that it was the FireFox browser. FireFox was also using an extraordinary amount of memory. After closing FireFox, the CPU usage dropped back to 7%.

I have several most frequently used websites tabbed in my homepage. Rather than isolating the website with all the resource usage, did quick web search and found reports of website owners now using cryptocurrency mining scripts to use the CPU power of the visitors for earning profits. Since they didn't ask my permission, I consider that stealing my CPU and memory.

A little more reading showed that this theft has caused blocking browser addins to be created and made available. Downloaded and installed crypto blockers for FireFox and Chrome. CPU usage has returned to normal levels.

There are many web articles on this subject. This one, 6 Easy Ways To Block Cryptocurrency Mining In Your Web Browser , describes the problem and 6 blockers for various browsers.

To check CPU usage and Process resource usage on a Windows Computer use the Windows Task Manager. Hold down ALT+CTRL+DEL key then select Task Manager. Performance Tab displays resource usage charts. Process Tab displays resource usage by running process.

I believe that the takeaways from the article should be:

1) Some websites are now crypto-mining and it is gaining popularity.

2) Install extensions for your browser(s) that block cryptocurrency mining. A non-mining website could start mining tomorrow. With extensions installed now it won't matter later.

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  #3 (permalink)
Hartford CT, USA
 
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IMO the thread title maybe could give the wrong idea - because the computer wasn't technically hijacked in the absolute sense.

On my trading PC I am very careful about trusting any sites at all. For this, I try to limit any web browsing to things such as broker pages, platform support pages. For Firefox, in my opinion, the NoScript extension should be a best practice - but it is some work to understand how to use it properly. I also recommend using "hosts files" before ad-blockers, because hosts files are handled at the system networking level, and so they should be more efficient with your CPU than a browser-based ad-blocker.

Also...as your linked article mentions...Crypto mining via javascript is a interesting development these days as a legitimate monetization source for site owners. But in order for it to be worthwhile to site owners, it basically has to suck up huge amounts of CPU, many many times more compared to any regular web advertisement. Looks like it can be loosely specified to use up to a certain percentage of the user's CPU, which is going to be proportional to the speed of your system. So they get more mining if you have a faster system, and they mine as long as you have the tab open.

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Much thanks for bringing attention to this issue, a vulnerability that computer-illiterate people here (such as myself) might not be aware of. l'll check mine tonight.

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  #5 (permalink)
Fairfax VA
 
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Posts: 38 since Dec 2009
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Rrrracer View Post
Much thanks for bringing attention to this issue, a vulnerability that computer-illiterate people here (such as myself) might not be aware of. l'll check mine tonight.

As the article explains, currently crypto-mining websites only use your computer's resources while their webpages are being displayed in your browser. Closing the browser or going to a clean website stops the mining. In my case one of my homepage browser tabs was mining. Therefore, when my browser was open over 50% of my CPU and a lot of my memory were being constantly used.

I believe that the takeaways from the article should be:

1) Some websites are now crypto-mining and it is gaining popularity.

2) Install extensions for your browser(s) that block cryptocurrency mining. A non-mining website could start mining tomorrow. With extensions installed now it won't matter later.

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