Politifact inadvertently hosted a digital currency miner

It's one of the highest-profile cryptocurrency hijacks to date.

a-image via Getty Images

You might expect a pirate website to use something as shady as a secret cryptocurrency miner, but that's now becoming a problem with above-board sites -- and it's not on purpose. Politifact visitors have discovered that the site was inadvertently hosting JavaScript code that hijacked your processor to mine virtual coins. The fact checker tells TechCrunch that it has removed the code and is investigating just how it got there, but it's more than a little alarming that such a popular page (3.2 million views per month) could be susceptible to parasitic code that bogs down your PC.

While the culprits aren't known at this point, they used familiar tactics. The JavaScript relied on CoinHive, a third-party service that makes these web-based currency miners possible.

It's not hard for sites to fend off these hidden mining operations, and you can thwart them yourself by running script blockers like NoScript or, well, closing the browser tab. However, the Politifact incident suggests that these miners are becoming more of a widespread problem. Hackers have realized that they don't necessarily need to compromise your PC or run a phishing scam to make a tidy profit -- they just have to slip their code into a site and watch the digital money roll in. That's better for your personal security, but it could also make web surfing a hassle as opportunists bog down your system for the sake of a little cash.