The evasive and alleged creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, instilled a hard cap of 21 million Bitcoin when creating the source code. This means that as Bitcoin mining industries continue to grow in size and efficiency, the job of mining will also increase in difficulty. This also explains why the crypto mining industry is based around Bitcoin and not, for example, Ethereum or Tender.
Although Bitcoin mining started out with solo miners quietly building up reserves of the currency on their home computers, those days are long gone. In order to become a key player in Bitcoin mining, a substantial amount of space and computer equipment is needed, along with maintenance such as air conditioning for the equipment, a large energy source and a stable internet connection. The scaling up of Bitcoin mining has been rapid and as a result has created concerns regarding the power required to maintain operations.
In fact, energy consumption during the mining of the currency has been steadily building to a record-breaking peak in January , following a decrease in July The increasing environmental cost of Bitcoin mining presents a new layer of considerations for those looking to source mine locations, such as how sustainable is this location and how ethical will this operation be? Growing concerns around vast energy consumption have led to Bitcoin mining being banned from many countries that were considered to be welcoming environments for the activity, meaning that the hotspots are in a constant state of flux.
Many countries have decided to not just ban Bitcoin mining but outlaw cryptocurrency altogether, including Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia and, most notably, China. When China banned cryptocurrency in September , the global hashrate — the level of computing power contributed to a network through Bitcoin mining — and the Bitcoin mining map shifted significantly.
Since China banned crypto, the US has quickly become the global leader for Bitcoin mining and the number one ranking country with regards to the hashrate. For example, Texas has a deregulated power grid with spot pricing that allows for agility when choosing and changing energy providers.
This means Bitcoin miners are offered a great degree of flexibility when it comes to the only real variable in crypto mining — energy consumption costs. In the US this tends to be regions such as the Pacific Northwest, where renewables such as hydroelectricity are the dominant components in the generation mix. The widespread availability of renewables in the US means that Bitcoin mining is less controversial there when compared with countries that have been slower to embrace greener energy.
Up until August , Kazakhstan sat in second place globally as a Bitcoin mining hotspot, but now the country's future as a crypto mining hub looks uncertain following the aforementioned January riots. The large expanses of space, low energy costs and favourable climate in Kazakhstan made an attractive offering for Bitcoin miners. However, following the internet shutdowns and power outages at the beginning of the year, its appeal may be wavering. Many experts expect that the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index — due to be published in March — will reveal that Kazakhstan has lost its spot as the world's second-largest Bitcoin mining location.
The third-largest Bitcoin mining location documented is Russia. On 18 February , the Russian Ministry of Finance introduced a cryptocurrencies bill that would see specific Bitcoin regulations introduced, and crypto payments still prohibited. This stance is in direct conflict with the Bank of Russia, however, which is calling for a complete cryptocurrency ban. The process incentivizes the miners who run the network with the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, for instance, was created by Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym and released in as open-source code.
Blockchain technology made it all work, providing a system where data structures blocks are broadcasted, validated, and registered in a public, distributed database through a network of communication endpoints nodes. While bitcoin is the most famous cryptocurrency, there are other popular alternatives.
This resulted in the development of Ethereum Classic, based the original blockchain, and Ethereum, its upgraded version via a hard fork. There are also other notable cryptocurrencies: Litecoin, Dogecoin, Monero. Litecoin is a purportedly technical improvement of Bitcoin that is capable of faster turnarounds via its Scrypt mining algorithm Bitcoin uses SHA The Litecoin Network is able to produce 84 million Litecoins—four times as many cryptocurrency units issued by Bitcoin.
Monero is notable for its use of ring signatures a type of digital signature and CryptoNote application layer protocol to protect the privacy of its transactions—amount, origin, and destination. Dogecoin, which was initially developed for educational or entertainment purposes, was intended for a broader demographic.
Capable of generating uncapped dogecoins, it also uses Scrypt to drive the currency along. Given their nature, they are more secure from fraud and identity theft as cryptocurrencies cannot be counterfeited, and personal information is behind a cryptographic wall.
Unfortunately, the same apparent profitability, convenience, and pseudonymity of cryptocurrencies also made them ideal for cybercriminals, as ransomware operators showed. The increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies coincide with the incidences of malware that infect systems and devices, turning them into armies of cryptocurrency-mining machines. Cryptocurrency mining is a computationally intensive task that requires significant resources from dedicated processors, graphics cards, and other hardware.
While mining does generate money, there are many caveats. Cryptocurrencies are mined in blocks; in bitcoin, for instance, each time a certain number of hashes are solved, the number of bitcoins that can be awarded to the miner per block is halved. Since the bitcoin network is designed to generate the cryptocurrency every 10 minutes, the difficulty of solving another hash is adjusted. And as mining power increases , the resource requirement for mining a new block piles up.
Payouts are relatively small and eventually decrease every four years—in , the reward for mining a block was halved to Consequently, many join forces into pools to make mining more efficient. Profit is divided between the group, depending on how much effort a miner exerted.
Bad guys turn to using malware to skirt around these challenges. To offset this, cryptocurrency-mining malware are designed to zombify botnets of computers to perform these tasks. Cryptocurrency-mining malware employ the same modus operandi as many other threats—from malware-toting spam emails and downloads from malicious URLs to junkware and potentially unwanted applications PUAs.
In January , a vulnerability in Yahoo! In , the threat crossed over to Android devices as Kagecoin , capable of mining bitcoin, litecoin, and dogecoin. The same was done to an old Java RAT that can mine litecoin. All exploit vulnerabilities. These threats infected devices and machines and turned them into monero-mining botnets. Cryptocurrency-mining malware steal the resources of infected machines, significantly affecting their performance and increasing their wear and tear.
An infection also involves other costs, like increased power consumption.
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