Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking

It has been a while, I know. For that I am sorry. Dee is taking a short break, and I was at a loss on what to talk about next. There is no shortage of tech and tools, but I haven’t had the chance to tinker with many new ones. Interesting developments like the Ethereum fork in response to a Parity hack had plenty of coverage by individuals who are more knowledgeable than I. Also, debates abound about how deeply librarians really need to understand blockchain. I think it is uncontroversial to say* that librarians need to at least have it on their radar. So, this post is going to cover cryptojacking.

Cryptojacking is a new term created to described when websites embed coding that coopts your PC’s hardware to mine for cryptocurrency. This wonderful new addition to the world of malicious code was graciously brought forth by the website CoinHive. CoinHive provides a bit of javascript code that can be added to website causing the computers of anyone who visits the site to be used to mine Monero, a cryptocurrency, for the website owner. CoinHive, for their efforts, takes a cut of the proceeds.

The result in many cases is that the user’s computer’s performance tanks as their resources are being co-opted to mine currency for third parties. Much like the sneaky tracking cookies of old**, there is no notice of this pirating of computer resources. While news of this began several months ago, it is continuing to pick up steam as it has been found on free Starbucks Wi-Fi networks.

Thankfully, there are now extensions for browsers to block the script or you can simply beef up existing ad blockers by adding the site to the block list (as described in the above link). Review the options that work best for you, and protect your computers!

-Cas

*famous last words
**Old as in big news of the past, not as in no longer an issue.

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Keep it private

Keep it private

As part of starting my new job, I had to set up my new computer. Doing this always reminds me of the things I take for granted. The set up of my desktop, the icons pinned to my taskbar, and the extensions on my browser. However, the shake up in my complacency also made me reevaluate what privacy measures I’m taking. I did some research, and while not a ton has changed, there are some new developments. So, for this short post, I give you a annotated list of privacy extensions, apps, and programs you should know about if you don’t already.

Privacy badger – A browser extension created by EFF that blocks third party cookies.

HTTPS: Everywhere – Another browser extension created by the good folks at EFF. This one makes sure that your communication with major sites is encrypted using https regardless of whether the site defaults to http. Continue reading “Keep it private”