PIA recently launched its new web portal for booking tickets online. Thanks to a tip we received yesterday, ProPakistani can confirm that PIA’s new website has been hosting a cryptocurrency mining script on its servers, capable of mining crypto-coins using computers of the people visiting the website.
What is Cryptocurrency Mining?
Most cryptocurrencies are obtained through a process called mining. Putting it simply, the process involves solving some complex calculations to add new coin transactions to a public ledger. Mining is a very time and resource intensive process and people who commit their hardware for this get rewarded in the form of new coins.
Is it Harmful?
It won’t harm your computer in the traditional sense like a virus would, but it will hog your PC’s resources, slowing it down considerably as long as the mining process is ongoing.
However, it is definitely unethical — no one should use your computer’s resources to mine cryptocurrency without your explicit permission.
“It seems that PIA has recently launched this new site,” he added. “It’s based on WordPress and whenever someone uses WordPress, it opens a can of worms.”
The script can then run directly from the browser to mine cryptocurrency on the computers of the users who visit the website.
Barely a couple of hours after we checked it out, both the files were modified and are now inaccessible on PIA’s website (last modified at 9:11 PM, Monday, 12th February).
It is extremely unlikely that PIA itself would try to embed cryptocurrency mining scripts in its official website. Not only does it seem reckless, it is also somewhat pointless, considering that the website would barely make 1-2 XMRs per month ($250 – $500 according to a rough estimate).
“It’s most likely a hack or a greedy employee,” added Asad.
If you suspect your computer is acting somewhat slow, you can run your browser’s task manager (SHIFT + ESC in chrome) to check if a particular tab is using too many resources. Moreover, you can also use ad-blockers to detect if a mining script is running in a tab or use the No Coin extension for Chrome/Firefox.