In their 2018 annual report, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK stated that there were 4,000 websites around the globe mining for cryptocurrencies without the consent of visitors to the sites. Cryptojacking is not a new concept, and one of most common forms is with the illicit code known as Coinhive, released in the summer of 2017.
The creators of Coinhive originally designed the software to circumvent web browser ad blockers to help site owners earn an income from their sites. The problem was that it was possible to set up the software to run without informing visitors to the websites that they would be allocating some of their computer resources to finance the site. Quite quickly the websites running Coinhive became blacklisted, and some antivirus software flagged the code as harmful.
To placate the internet community, the developers tweaked the code, and it became AuthedMine, which asks visitors to the site if they wish to run the software. This ethical form of cryptojacking is now being used by UNICEF Australia to provide lifesaving support for children in crisis. UNICEF Australia took to Twitter April 29, 2018, to announce their new fundraising initiative so they are being open and upfront about their new website. In the first couple of days since the website went live, they have secured donations from more than 4,000 visitors that specifically consented to mine cryptocurrencies on behalf of UNICEF.
It’s expected that other charities will now follow UNICEF’s lead and add similar fundraising features to their websites. Many charities also accept contributions in cryptocurrencies to support their cause. Save the Children and The Water Project are a couple of well-known charities that currently accept donations in bitcoin. As blockchain technology becomes easier to use for the masses, the hope is that charities will benefit hugely from benefactors that can send funds instantly with little or no associated fees.