In Brief

Salon magazine asks readers with ad-blockers to mine for cryptocurrency

American news site uses controversial Coinhive tool to scan for monero, a bitcoin rival

The US-based news magazine Salon is asking readers with advert-blocking software to use their computers to mine for the cryptocurrency monero. 

Readers using software to avoid seeing adverts are presented with a pop-up window, says the Financial Times, which asks them if they would like to use their computers’ processing power for “calculations”.

These calculations are powered by a programme called Coinhive, the website says, which hides in readers’ web browsers and uses a portion of their computers’ power to solve complex algorithms to unlock monero – a rival cryptocurrency to bitcoin. 

Coinhive is a controversial mining tool that was recently uploaded to government websites by hackers. It mines for digital currencies by using the computer power of unsuspecting web users, reports BBC News

The BBC says that Salon has not been targeted by cyber criminals and that the US publication asks its readers for permission before using the mining tool. 

While Salon magazine’s coin-mining approach could be seen as controversial, Tech Crunch says it’s a “clever” solution to recover advertising revenue that would otherwise be lost through people using ad-blocking software. 

But the move is “a big ask from readers” and it’s vital that those with less technical experience “know what they’re getting into”, the website says. 

As it stands, Coinhive’s name is only mentioned in the small tick-box that readers use to consent to the mining method, adds Tech Crunch. There’s no information about the software in Salon’s frequently-asked questions (FAQs) page.

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