February 2018 will be remembered as the month where we woke up to the concept of computers being hacked and used to mine new cryptocurrencies. Following a significant drop in January, investors are now asking themselves if the reputation of the crypto industry is under attack as devices the world over are secretly hijacked to mine new coins. Let’s explore the landscape, keeping in mind that no one knows what they’re doing, true to the nature of new innovations.
It was announced by Security researcher Scott Helme that several of the United Kingdom’s government websites had been hacked via an installed plugin infecting their devices with crypto mining software. All infected devices where working in the background to make money for “crypto mining hackers” and with no one any wiser. Just this week, to combat this practice, Google released a new version of its Chrome browser with an ad-blocker built in.
On the other end of the scale is the online publication Salon. The magazine was completely upfront and honest about its plans to get their subscribers mining crypto for them. Salon informed its readers this week that if they wanted to install and use ad blockers that the website would use alternative means of monetising their traffic. Leveraging off their computing power they plan on mining the Monero currency, they are the reason we’re having this conversation in the first place.
"When things are new, it scares people, but it also creates potential opportunities and that's what innovation is all about" said Salon publisher, Jordan Hoffner. He says if Salon readers don't want to mine Monero they can pay a subscription via their new app or simply accept the adverts. Salon is keen to dip it’s feet into the crypto and blockchain stream and see if the latest technology revolution is as its dedicated investors claim. Hoffner admits he has no idea how much the company will earn from mining. If the crypto bubble bursts, it will be another blind alley for the industry.
Estonia is a small country is punching above its weight when it comes to ICOs. Estonia has more ICOs per head than any other nation. Among them is WePower. The firm's CTO, Kaspar Kaarlep, left Estonia's energy utility to co-found the business. He says WePower has two missions for the tokens it has created through its ICO: to make it simpler to fund new energy projects and to close the link between the consumer and producer.
The concept is built on recording energy suppliers and transactions on a blockchain, the consumer will decide where their energy comes from. "What blockchain does is allow the connection of the customer to the production." said Kaarlep. "Blockchain, as we know it today in its technological youth, will need to improve." He said it could be 10 years before WePower realises its long term goals. There is a vast amount of hype around blockchain. Estonia is renowned for finding a more sober yet optimistic assessment of crypto potential.