At its height, bitcoin mining sparked a price war for GPUs (Graphics Processor Units) that pushed their prices to an all-time high. The GPU manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices did rather well financially, investor interest in the company’s stock skyrocketed, and trading volume reached a 10-year high.
But when the complexity of mining Bitcoin and other leading cryptocurrencies grew concurrently, the crypto mining gold rush rapidly petered out despite the soaring demand for GPUs.
There is always hope that your bitcoin mining efforts may bear fruit. Is it legal to mine cryptocurrencies, and how can you get into them? In this article, we’ll go further into these questions.
What Is Crypto Mining?
There are currently three main ways to get Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You can “mine” them online, buy them from an exchange like Coinbase, or get them as payment for goods or services.
We may use Bitcoin and cryptocurrency synonymously or refer to them separately despite Bitcoin being just one version of crypto. This is because, as the pioneer cryptocurrency, Bitcoin sets the stage for how cryptocurrencies operate.
The mining process is how new cryptocurrency coins enter into circulation. It’s also how the network verifies any new transactions. Hence, it’s important to keep the blockchain ledger up-to-date and growing. “Mining” is the process of trying to solve a tough math problem using a piece of high-tech bitcoin-mining hardware. The first computer to answer the challenge correctly gets the next block of coins, and so on.
Mining for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies takes a lot of time, costs money, and isn’t always worth it. Still, many people who invest in cryptocurrencies are drawn to mining because miners are rewarded with crypto tokens for their work. Enterprising people, like the gold prospectors in California in 1849, saw mining as a way to make money quickly. And it’s not a bad idea if you’re into technology. However, if you have no idea what you’re doing, you’re almost certainly setting yourself up for failure.
You may have thought about trying bitcoin mining. In the last ten years, anyone with a decent home computer could join. But as the blockchain grows, keeping up with it requires more and more processing power. As of October 2019, mining a single Bitcoin takes 12 trillion times more processing power than it did to mine the first blocks in January 2009. Hobbyists can’t expect to make money by mining Bitcoin as a result. Most mining operations in the modern world are run by specialized companies or groups of miners who work together and share their resources.
Even so, it is helpful to know how Bitcoin mining works.
Why Cryptocurrency Requires Mining
On the blockchain network, nodes do computational work, a metaphor for “mining,” to get new tokens. People help with the primary goal of mining, which is to verify and authenticate Bitcoin transactions because they want to get the bitcoins that come from mining. Miners earn payment for doing auditing duties, and they are the ones who really check to see if Bitcoin transactions are legitimate. Satoshi Nakamoto, who created Bitcoin, developed this protocol to ensure that Bitcoin transactions are safe.
Bitcoin is a “decentralized” cryptocurrency, meaning it doesn’t need a central authority like a central bank or government to keep track of its rules. Instead, many people around the world work together to do these jobs.
The “double-spending problem” may be less of a problem thanks to the work of miners who validate transactions.
Double spending is when a Bitcoin owner spends the same Bitcoin twice without permission. This isn’t a problem with real cash because once you give a $50 bill to pay for your groceries, you no longer have it and can’t use it to buy your friend a birthday present. Even though it is possible to use counterfeit money, this is not the same as using the same dollar twice. But, with digital money, the owner can make a copy of the digital token and send it to a merchant or another party while keeping the original.
Imagine that you have one real $50 bill and one fake one. If you tried to spend both real and fake money, anyone who took the time to compare their serial numbers would quickly figure out that one of the bills was fake. A blockchain miner does something similar: check transactions to ensure that users have not tried to spend the same Bitcoin twice.
How Long Does It Take to Mine Bitcoin?
Every 10 minutes, on average, a new block is created, and every 96 seconds, a new bitcoin is mined. This single bitcoin, however, may be divided across several miners in various locations.
It may take a miner a long time to mine one bitcoin, according to William Szamosszegi, CEO of Sazmining. This platform links average retail miners with existing green Bitcoin mining operations.
A Bitcoin mining firm, Gryphon Digital Mining, said in April that it had mined 61 USD worth of bitcoins during that month. Obtaining these outcomes will need a significant investment of your time and energy. (The firm invested $48 million in over 7,000 Bitcoin mining machines in July 2021).
Because of the intense rivalry, almost all Bitcoin miners now join mining pools. A mining pool boosts miners’ potential to successfully finish a Bitcoin network block.
So What is the Blockchain?
There is a limit on the number of possible bitcoins, which is 21 million, and this exists to stop inflation from the start. On the other hand, Bitcoin units are not printed by central banks like banknotes are instead, they can only be made digitally with the help of computing power.
Something called a “blockchain” that makes this possible. In crypto mining, like Bitcoin Mining, all transactions are put together into “blocks.” Then, they are linked in a straight line by a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Each block receives something called a “hash value,” which serves as a verification number for the transactions inside. In turn, the check number stores the hash values of both the current transaction and the one before. A cryptographic operation (also called a “hash function”) can help make these on a regular computer (SHA256). Because it is mathematically impossible to change the chain backward, this method makes it impossible to change the transactions. The rest of the sequence would be off even if just one value were to change.
We’ve established that blockchain technology allows for the creation of cryptocurrencies. A public, decentralized database called a “distributed ledger” records transaction details chronologically. Once a transaction has been recorded using blockchain technology, nobody can alter it. Because of this, hacking is entirely futile. There is no smaller unit of a blockchain than a block. Since its creation, it has recorded every single transaction that has taken place. The term “fields” refers to a block’s four distinct sections.
Previous Hash: When two or more blocks need to be connected, this field contains the hash value of the preceding block.
The total amount of confirmed and mined transactions in this block.
Nonce: A “proof of work” consensus process, like the one employed by Bitcoin, uses the nonce to modify the hash value supplied by the network. Parameterized by the nonce, the predicted hash value of each block may be calculated. Blockchain uses proof of work to validate transactions.
Hash: When a block’s previous hash value, contents, and nonce are fed through the SHA-256 hashing algorithm, the output is the block’s digital signature.
The SHA-256 cryptographic hash algorithm is special because it generates a one-of-a-kind 256-bit alphanumeric hash value for each input. No matter the size of the input, it will always generate a 256-bit hash.
Three Fundamental Concepts of the Blockchain
Bitcoin mining necessitates familiarity with the three core components of blockchain technology.
Publicly Distributed Ledger: All the transactions that have taken place on the blockchain network are recorded in a distributed ledger. Users on the Bitcoin network verify each other’s transactions.
SHA-256: Blockchain ensures the integrity of each block by using a cryptographic hash technique called SHA-256. These documents employ electronic signatures. Once a hash is created, nobody can alter it in any way. Regardless of the input string’s length, SHA-256 always returns the same 256-bit hash result. That’s because it’s a one-way function whose results can’t be utilized to recreate its predecessors (what you have generated) reliably.
Proof of Work: Crypto miners employ proof of work, a challenging mathematical problem, to verify the legitimacy of blockchain transactions. To create a hash that is less than the network’s aim for that block, miners must first identify the nonce value, a math issue they must solve.
Hash Puzzle Resolution
Miners must figure out the hash problem and find the hash that is less than a predetermined goal based on the mining difficulty criterion. The header has a 67-digit plan that controls how hard it is to mine based on how many miners try to solve a hash function simultaneously. This difficulty changes based on how long miners solved an equation in the last 2016 blocks, and this happens every 2016 block. This helps ensure that a transaction is added to the blockchain on average every 10 minutes.
To solve the hash problem, miners must keep adding a nonce to the block header and calculating the block’s hash until the block’s hash number is less than the goal. As soon as a mining machine finishes its task, a new block is made and checked on the Bitcoin network. This happens after all of the nodes on the network agree on what happened. After a block gains approval, the transactions inside it are checked, and the block itself is added to the chain. As we already said, this happens once every 10 minutes.
There will be a lot of miners (systems) competing for the Bitcoin prize, and the winner is the first miner to get the right hash value. With this method, more cryptocurrency can enter into circulation.
Ways to Mine New Cryptocurrencies
There are two main ways to mine crypto, both of which are good choices. This includes both private mining at home and mining in the cloud.
Cryptocurrency Mining on a Private Server
The eWallet is the most important part of the cryptocurrency mining ecosystem (e.g., bitcoins, Moneros, and Co.). Also, you need a special program that can run the hash algorithm so you can mine Bitcoin in private. Anyone who knows how to use a PC can set this up and install it with little trouble. You can mine crypto on a personal computer using only the central processing unit (CPU), but we do not recommend it because of the high costs. One reason is the rise of “ASIC” (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) chips specifically for mining cryptocurrency. It can do it up to a hundred times faster and more efficiently. Even though this is an option, it isn’t always as profitable as mining cryptocurrency in the cloud.
Crypto Mining in the Cloud
You can get hash power without running a mining rig on your hardware if you use a cloud mining service. But providers have a lot of choices, and some even run their own “Bitcoin mining rigs.”
On the provider’s website, contracts for different cryptocurrencies can be finalized, and prices for contracts depend on what kind of service is being hired. So, changes in the prices of cryptocurrencies don’t affect service providers.
Crypto/Bitcoin Mining: Legal vs. Illegal?
Mining cryptocurrency is hard, takes a lot of energy, and costs a lot of money in mining equipment and energy. In the past, all you needed to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies was a personal computer, but times have changed. The so-called “halving” happens at set times because the value of the cryptocurrency goes down as more units are made. This ensures that the time it takes to make a cryptocurrency unit will double at a certain point. This safety measure is necessary because inflation will happen otherwise.
On the other hand, this means that making a single unit of crypto takes more and more time to process. Power consumption and device wear are both going up quickly. When one’s computer stops paying off, it’s no longer worth the trouble to mine. If a crypto miner wants to make money, they quickly start trying different ways to mine. In a short period, brand-new chances come up: One example is the practice of mining cryptocurrency in countries like Iceland, Venezuela, and Georgia, where electricity is cheap. In these countries, whole industries have grown, and some are putting the national power grid at risk. Iceland is in a power crisis because cryptocurrency mining uses more electricity. What happened next: A severe lack of the substance in demand and rising costs of making it.
Using a botnet to make cryptocurrency is a nearly free but also illegal way to do it. The goal is to get as many computers as possible to join a network like this so they can mine cryptocurrency together. The newly minted bitcoins go straight to the thieves’ electronic wallets. They do this by installing malware on their victims’ computers without their knowledge.
Illegal Cryptocurrency Mining: A Method for Cybercriminals to Access Your Computer
There are two main types of illegal crypto mining that are easy to tell apart. Coinhive, a tool for mining cryptocurrency, is the most popular way to do this, even though most security suites mark it as a “possibly dangerous program.”
Coinhive-infected websites force visitors’ devices to mine cryptocurrency, sometimes without the user’s knowledge or permission. Some of them, like the Crypto Mining app on the website of Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, use all of the available CPU power. But this method is bad for Coinhive users in a big way: cryptocurrency mining only happens when a user is physically on the website. If they leave the spot, they will stop the process of mining cryptocurrency.
Ransomware and Mining for Cryptocurrencies With Malware
Malware that mines cryptocurrency is a whole different problem. Hackers use many ways to sneak it onto their victims’ computers. Most infections come from hacked websites. But a cryptocurrency mining dropper could also hide in unpaid software. A user might unknowingly download malware from a compromised download site. Once you install the malware, it will start mining for the chosen cryptocurrency on the user’s computer. Since it will use all of the computers’ processing power, cybercriminals must be careful to cover their tracks while mining.
Simply put, it will be tough for the owner to use the device if it is always running at full capacity. Usually, the user will then do something to stop it from happening again. So, Crypto Mining Malware usually only uses about two-thirds of the available processing power. When a program that uses many resources starts up, some malicious software slows down. There are antivirus programs out there that can protect you from crypto mining malware.
On the other hand, fraudsters don’t do much with the many compromised devices that they infect separately. They must be able to use their resources together to make cryptocurrency. A bot network is the best way to do this. Some of these networks often have thousands of computers, and the cybercriminals who run them sometimes make a lot of money.
How to Protect Yourself Against Malicious Cryptocurrency Mining Operations
First of all, there is no single security measure that can stop unwanted crypto mining. Instead, it would be best to use a wide range of security measures. However, knowing how and what tools cybercriminals use to mine cryptocurrency illegally is essential. Proper security awareness could be the key to a successful plan to stop something from happening. It’s also essential to update the computer’s antivirus, operating system, and other applications. You should only download software from sites like heise.de that are reputably safe. Many well-known sites where you can download software also offer to install other programs while setting up the first one.
There could be more infections, like droppers that mine cryptocurrency. Also, spam emails might have links to websites with Crypto Mining Droppers. Good spam emails can be hard to tell apart from real ones, so we recommend businesses use a service that filters spam. People also say that you should pay more attention online. We also suggest that you use a web filter since it is improbable that you will find suspicious sites with malware. This lets the user know about any potentially dangerous information on the website before loading it. This protects your system from Crypto Mining Malware and anything else that could be dangerous.
Mining is necessary to ensure the blockchain network is safe and to make and check new blocks of transactions. Anyone can start mining cryptocurrency, but before they do, they should carefully consider the pros and cons. You can also look for how to make money from cryptocurrency.
Mining is a technological job, so you need to know how to do things like buy and set up equipment. When picking a cryptocurrency to mine, you should learn as much as you can about it on your own. Also, you need a cryptocurrency wallet before you can pull out any mining profits.
Keep in mind, though, that the crypto ecosystem changes quickly, so it’s important to keep an eye on project updates and new ideas, as they could change how cryptocurrency and Bitcoin mining works.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful, and we wish you the best of luck in your crypto-mining endeavors.