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Showtime was mining with your computer!

Some security researchers discovered that Showtime's streaming services were using visitors computers to mine cryptocurrency. This is an exciting new way to scam the public. So far, after a week, neither Showtime nor CBS (Showtime's parent company) have explained the attack on users. Was their site hacked by an outside miscreant or were the miscreants Showtime itself?

Some explanation is needed. Cryptocurrency is a decentralized digital asset used as a medium of exchange. It uses cryptography to secure the transactions and normally the identity of the transactors. The first major and most famous cryptocurrency is bitcoin, however there are others that are popular.

To control the increase in the total supply of currency available, these cryptocurrencies allow users to try and solve very difficult problems that are only solved by enormous volumes of guesses. Computer programs can generate currency by being the first to solve a problem. That currency can be converted to state sponsored currencies like the American dollar. The supply of currency available is controlled by increasing or decreasing the difficulty of the problems.

Computers that are working on these problems are called miners. The process of working on the problems is called mining. Visitors who streamed videos from Showtime in late September 2017 had their computers hijacked to mine for the cryptocurrency called Monero.

Because as much as 60% of a computer's CPU capacity could be used for mining in this way, the streamer is not only paying for the Showtime service, but using his own electricity to further support whoever put that software on Showtime's site.

Further reading

Date: October 2017

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