Malware that surreptitiously mines cryptocurrency while you browse the web is big news right now – literally in the case of news outlet Salon, which has enabled it as an opt-in feature. One thing that it certainly isn’t, though, is big business. Every other day, media outlets seem to be running stories about the latest cryptojacking scams. While these tales are mostly true, the extent of the problem has been vastly overstated. Smart criminals aren’t covertly crypto mining in-browser, not because they’re incapable of doing so, but because even at scale it simply isn’t profitable.
Last weekend, it emerged that the Browse Aloud web browser plugin had been hijacked, causing it to covertly mine cryptocurrency on around 5,000 computers. Among those affected were systems used by a number of British government bodies including the National Health Service and a student loans company.