Coinhive, a browser crypto-mining service which extracts cryptocurrency through visitors’ computers and funds its ongoing mission in Bangladesh, has been selected by UNICEF Australia to setup the Hope Page. UNICEF’s Director of Fundraising and Communications Jennifer Tierney explained, “We wanted to leverage new emerging technologies to raise awareness about current humanitarian crises and raise new funds to support children caught up in them. The Hope Page allows Australians to provide help and hope to vulnerable children by simply opening the page when they are online.”
Coinhive has had a lot of negative press. This is due to hackers exploiting popular plugins used by thousands of websites. They were tweaked to inject code that caused visitors’ browsers to generate digital coins on the hacker's behalf.
Coinhive infected code has targeted everything from government websites, to Google and YouTube users. As a result, Coinhive has been listed amongst the largest threats to web security. In an interview with Motherboard, the developers didn’t expect that hackers would cryptojack the code, “We were quite overwhelmed by the extremely fast adoption,” a member of the Coinhive team told Motherboard in an email. “In hindsight, we were also quite naive in our assumptions on how the miner would be used. We thought most sites would use it openly, letting their users decide to run it for some goodies, as we did with our test implementation on pr0gramm.com before the launch. Which is not at all what happened in the first few days with Coinhive.”
Australian technology publication ITNews reports that the Hope Page’s source code shows that the mining is being powered by AuthedMine. It’s an alternate version of the CoinHive-API that was launched in September 2017. The AuthedMine version of the software includes opt-in functionality that makes it suitable for fundraising. Coinhive’s new partnership with UNICEF could help to develop a more positive image for the software and through this deployment, UNICEF is using the software’s opt-in method will ensure visitors are aware of the organisation’s intentions.
How Does It Work?
The software presents an innovative way of asking people to donate to charity without spending their real money. The Hope Page displays a button that says Start Donating. Once you click it, a message appears that the page wants to use your processor for calculations that are executed inside a sandbox in the browser. Click Allow For This Session to donate your share of contribution.
The website explains that the mining process is completely safe and offers the following instructional message:
“The longer you stay on the page and the more processor power you donate, the more algorithms get solved, which earns cryptocurrency … If you’re ever worried about power consumption, simply turn down the amount of processing power you’re donating. The cryptocurrency is automatically donated to UNICEF Australia and is turned into real funds that reach children through life-saving supplies like safe water, therapeutic food and vaccines. Turn the Hope Page into your homepage to give every day.”
At the time of writing, the Hope Page showed that around 6622 visitors to the site were currently using their processors to donate to the cause.