The Art of Minting Money Online

Many years ago an ‘unknown benefactor‘ from Nigeria dropped me an email about a “once in a lifetime offer” that was simply too tempting to pass! You see, a very distant relative of his had recently passed away leaving billions of $ in unclaimed property. For unbeknownst reasons, all I needed to do now was to pass on my bank account and address details, so that my pal from Africa can work out finer details & help me claim a fortune and share it with me!

This would sound familiar to so many of us who were spammed a decade or so ago. In fact the same story has done so so many rounds, that we all started to crave for a change from this cringeworthy storyline, if not for a way out of spam emails!

That, my friends, were the good times when you knew for certain you were being conned. Internet was a level playing field. Today, there is an altogether different tale being spun around the web. Sadly, this one lacks the creativity or drama, and is simply an audacious effort to get rich on our back.

Welcome to an era of scripting and the untraceable scammer whose presence can only be felt by the surprisingly loud whirring noise of your laptop fan! With onset of any great tech cometh the fraud and deceit that is ever so more clever, subtle and devious. What I am talking about is the advent of digital ledgers as a source for minting ‘decentralized crypto-currencies’. Someone (or some team) ingenious created a revolutionary product, a few smart folks made a world around it; it was only a matter of time before the dacoits came calling with their own war cry!

The recent trend of using idle browser/ machine time to mint currencies like Bitcoin or Monero took a whole new turn when hackers broke into a major cloud container server, turning it into a parasite bot. What this implies is that using nothing more than the power of “unutilized and unprotected decentralized resources” a.k.a. your PC/ Mac/ mobile that’s on standby, hackers and cyber terrorists can now make thousands in crypto currency while you and me will be none the wiser until someone stumbles on an unexpected code check-in!

While a site like coin-hive originated for seemingly useful purpose, the power of their simple JavaScript can be quite a weapon at the hands of a content developer for a major corporate or a hacker with access to a popular site whose admin simply forgot to set the correct write permissions. We already have a handful of plugin developers spring up with their product to face this new-found online enemy no. 1 and the anti-virus devs playing catch-up. Voila! A whole new industry sprung out of nowhere!

A great use case is found right within coin-hive in the form of innocent looking short links (see what I just did ;))! I can perceive that a team is already busy building a WordPress plugin or a clever little hook that will soon mutate into an ICO of sorts. The advent of fake news couldn’t have come at a better time. Such news offered as click-bait links produced via machine learning algorithms based on your social and search profile, of course, would make a good recipe that you can happily click a hundred times everyday in your FB or twitter feeds!

The internet was a minefield in the making; and it is more potent than ever now. We, for a change, no longer have to worry about computer virus and ransomware since we are now officially helping to carry the parasites in this bizarre world! Holding your machine captive was the old cowboy way of stealing money. It is the way of the world to refine in every aspect of life. Minting money is the new sport in town. The age of the blockchain is well and truly among us!

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