Remember the good old days, when all Adware did was make your web browsing experience inconvenient by bombarding you with annoying popups? Sadly, those days appear to be over. There’s a new generation of Adware that goes far, far beyond that.
Recently, a particularly nasty variant called VLMiner was found. It’s clever, and is programmed with a number of evasive maneuvers in order to evade detection. Before it runs, for example, it performs a check to see whether you have an antivirus program running. If you do, the installation aborts. It also checks to see if you’ve got a high end graphics card installed on your machine. Again, if one is not detected, the installation will abort.
If you’re unprotected, and have a good graphics card, the installation proceeds. Once completed, every time you log onto your computer, the Adware logs on and uses your graphics card to begin mining for virtual currency. In this case, the currency its mining for is “Decred.”
Of course, any currency mined by your PC goes to the owners of the Adware, so they’re using your PC without your knowledge, running your high end graphics card at 70% capacity, which will hinder the performance of any applications you run that rely heavily on the graphics card. In addition though, running your graphics card at 70% capacity like that uses a notable amount of electricity, raising your monthly bill, and will invariably shorten the lifespan of your card.
If you’re a legitimate currency miner, those things are okay, because that’s part of the tradeoff. You trust that the value of any currency mined will exceed the costs to your equipment and the increase in your monthly electricity bill.
The Adware owners though, are foisting those costs onto the unsuspecting public, and reaping all the gains. Worst of all, it’s not illegal. There are almost no laws governing Adware, and as this latest example demonstrates, it’s well past time to change that.