We Need to Talk about AirAsia Mining Visitor’s CPUs for Cryptocurrencies

4th Oct 2017

Mining Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoins is something everybody is doing these days and that’s okay. What’s not okay is syphoning the CPU power from your visitor’s computer in order to mine for them.

Apparently, this is exactly what AirAsia has been doing. Yesterday, Malaysian technology news website Lowyat.net, reported that it found a suspicious script on AirAsia BIG Prepaid’s website and on Tuneprotect.com.

The script, called Coinhive, basically drains CPU power from visiting computers in order to mine for cryptocurrencies. However, the script doesn’t mine Bitcoins, which require a specially designed rig to be profitable, but another kind, called Monero. Unlike Bitcoins, you can purchase Monero offline, using real money.

Here are five things you need to know about this script:

  1. Can Coinhive harm your computer?

It all depends on how much of your computer’s CPU power ends up being used by the script. Most scripts of this kind are set to take between 20 and 30 percent of the CPU power from a visiting computer and only run on tabs where the site is open. However, according to Vice, even this much usage can cause a slow down or even crash your computer.

  1. Does Coinhive compromise your data?

Since Coinhive is not considered a malware, it’s unlikely that the script caused any data breaches.

In a statement, Tune Protect Group Bhd Group CEO Razman Hafidiz Abu Zarim said:

We would like to assure our customers that we take their privacy seriously and have strong controls in place to protect their data. There are no personal data nor information breaches from this issue.

  1. Is this illegal and/or ethical?

In 2013, a group of students from MIT created something similar. The project, called TidBit, allowed websites to use visitor’s processing power to mine Bitcoins. The project was shut down by court order. The court ruled in this case that using someone’s CPU power to mine cryptocurrencies without their consent is gaining access to that person’s computer.

The Coinhive script was introduced to these sites secretly and without the user’s agreement. However, not everyone is opposed to having his PC used this way. In fact, a poll on The Pirate Bay said that more would be open to this, rather than seeing ads, as long as they are notified when their computers are used.

  1. Is this making booking on AirAsia.com so slow?

No, that’s because of all the people flooding the servers for promotional flights.

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