Has a Crypto Miner Hijacked Your Trading Computer?

A trader’s very livelihood hinges on their trading computer staying at peak performance. Increased slippage due to a slower computer can cost you big bucks. If you’ve noticed Google Chrome slowing down lately, check if you have a crypto mining extension installed. These extensions can hog your computer’s CPU bandwidth and make your computer run more a lot slowly.

What is Crypto Mining?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others depend on distributed computing power to manage the cryptocurrency transactions. Let’s look at how this works. Suppose you are a miner of cryptocurrency. You want to transfer some cryptocurrencies to a friend. You will advertise this transaction to the network. Your transaction and others will get put into a block. Think of this block as a page of a ledger. Now, this block is ready to be added to the main blockchain. The blockchain is a distributed digital ledger. The page that has your transaction is going to be added to the main ledger or blockchain. This addition happens with the help of mathematical formulas that require a lot of computing power. Cryptocurrency miners provide the required computing power. In return, they get rewarded with cryptocurrencies… which have now reached the point where they are worth serious money. The problem is computers need electricity and electricity is expensive. So some companies have come up with ways to distribute their computing burden via different methods. One of these methods is through the use of Chrome extensions. When you use a Chrome extension with crypto-mining capability, it will use your CPU cycles to make some of the calculations. This reduces the cost to crypto-mining companies, but if they’re using your computing power, it is likely of no benefit to you.

Enter the Cryptojackers

In the past, Google allowed crypto mining extensions to be distributed via the Chrome store. If your trading computer or home computer is lying idle and you want to share your CPU cycles, there is nothing wrong with it. Google’s official policy was that as long as the computer owners were aware of what was going on, it was okay. However, the real problem starts with cryptojacking extensions that don’t inform computer owners about what they are doing. They take over a computer’s CPU, and that slows down the entire system. Imagine trying to work on your trading computer and being unable to do anything because somebody else is using it at the same time. These extensions help cryptojackers make money without any investment. They don’t have to buy the hardware if they are using yours. And, they are letting you, the victim of their scheme, bear the electricity bill.

Google’s Revised Crypto Mining Policy

On April 2, 2018, Google informed the Chrome community it’s not going to allow crypto-mining-related extensions anymore. It will start removing all crypto mining extensions by late June 2018. Google had found that 90% of Chrome crypto mining extensions were non-compliant (i.e., they were mining without the computer owner’s knowledge). In addition, Google has been going after extensions that surreptitiously perform crypto mining. For example, one such extension (now removed from the Chrome Web Store) was a URL shortener. Cryptojacking is a large racket. Perpetrators have even stolen computing resources from a Russian nuclear weapons labs. A security researcher reported that more than 4,000 governmental sites might be the victims of cryptojacking.

Protect Your Trading Computers

Trading computers are especially susceptible because traders often visit financial and cryptocurrency-related websites. In order to protect yourself, avoid shady sites. Also, use an antivirus app that has website threat-level evaluation. This way you don’t have to guess. The antivirus software will let you know if it is safe to visit the site. Never download an app from a website that doesn’t pass muster with Malwarebytes or similar software. Read my earlier blog post for additional ways to protect yourself from cryptojackers. Stay alert and don’t let your trading business become a victim of crypto mining.
There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyers guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250