A cryptocurrency miner was discovered running on the ufc.tv website, UFC’s official pay-per-view service, which affected both paying and non-paying customers of the website. Visitors to the site would be victim to malicious code that would secretly use up all of their processor resources in the background. It later turned out that this code mined Monero, the privacy-focused cryptocurrency, for the duration of the victim’s stay on the UFC website.
These days, Bitcoin mining is usually reserved for specific hardware running in server farms. Mining Bitcoin alone using ordinary computers has become unprofitable for several years now. This problem does not affect all cryptocurrencies though, much like the one used in this case.
A Reddit user “gambledub” noticed his anti-virus notifying him of the Coinhive script and posted the incident online. He reached out to UFC soon after via email for a comment on the topic.
One thing of note though, is that most websites implementing these background miners tend to be linked to piracy or other dubious activity. This incident is one of the few to be found on a commercial website, which further points to possible nefarious activity.
Secretive cryptocurrency miners are only new to web browsers though. Desktop applications have been used to run Bitcoin miners for several years now, as from 2013 demonstrates. The legal complications that come with bundling Bitcoin miners are also massive. The above incident caused this company to be sued by users who claimed that prolonged mining left their computers damaged permanently.