Showtime is a major network so you can imagine the kind of traffic its websites pull. It appears that the company recently put that traffic to use by secretly mining cryptocurrency. A script was discovered on some Showtime websites which used users’ CPU power to mine for virtual currency. Following reports about this behavior, the script was quietly removed.
Cryptocurrency miners can cause a spike in CPU usage. Users who don’t know what’s going on will likely be under the impression that their system is slowing down. What they don’t know is that their system is taking on additional load due to the script that’s mining cryptocurrency.
Several users on Twitter pointed out that websites like showtime.com and showtimeanytime.com were mining users’ extra CPU power for cryptocurrency. The script used is called Coinhive. It was developed to enable website owners to circumvent ad blockers and generate revenue. However, many ad blockers are now actively blocking Coinhive.
The script mines a cryptocurrency called Monero. It’s basically a more private version of Bitcoin as it can be purchased offline with cash. Coinhive keeps 30 percent of the proceeds from the mining operation while the remaining goes to the website owner.
Showtime isn’t the only one that used this tactic. Torrent website The Pirate Bay was caught doing this recently and it has since apologized for running the script without informing users. It has also asked users whether they prefer CPU mining over ads and many of its users have been open to the former.
Showtime hasn’t commented on this so far so we don’t have its side of the story just yet.