Crypto conundrum

(Image: Stockfresh)

15 June 2018

It was with some interest the other day that I looked into the possibility of mining cryptocurrencies on smart phones.

I had seen something on one of those clickbait lists that now bedevils even the most legitimate of web sites, that was offering a secure and high performance mining app for your favourite cryptocurrencies.

“People are attempting to mine cryptocurrencies on smart phones, and there is an entire sub-industry out there to facilitate them”

I immediately thought, that sounds a bit daft, who would use their smart phone to mine cryptocurrencies?

How wrong I was.

The more I looked, the more I realised there is a panoply of applications for smart phones that allow you to mine the likes of Etherium, Monero, Litecoin, and even Bitcoin, on your smart phone.

There are even measures within these to tell you how profitable your processing is!

A quick bit of research though, showed that Bitcoin mining is all but futile, as the nature of the finite supply, as well as the now astronomical resources needed, have put that particular currency out of reach of most, let alone those who would do it on a mobile device.

Therefore, one would have to select a currency that is readily tradeable but not yet so exclusive if you were to have any chance at all of success. This means a lot of research and ultimately a judgement call. But the whole nature of cryptocurrencies is such that their very freedom from the constraints of financial authorities means there is an inherent volatility which is even harder to predict.

Thus, even if you manage to pick a winner, by the time you get to the point of actually generating a coin or two, forces entirely beyond your control, and sometimes even your knowledge, could have wiped out the value of what you have produced.

Then there is the risk of malware associated with the cryptocurrency world, where even if the app you download is 100% clean, the exchange that you then access to cash out could well be infested, if not outright fraudulent. Plus, there is the fact that any cryptocurrency that is doing well attracts the attention of the less than trustworthy, and it all ads up so a rather fraught proposition.

And yet, this was obviously a common practice despite the risks and apparent unsuitability of the platform.

Literally, as I read, a story popped up from The Register, saying that Apple had changed its rules for the app store with regard to cryptomining apps, restricting their capabilities.

The moves tighten security and limit what services and capabilities that can be employed when handling, storing or mining cryptocurrencies in the walled garden of Apple-dom.

In the usual manner of such measures, they would not have been taken were there not an issue to deal with, or many.

I’m not entirely sure what conclusions can be drawn from this other than the fact that people are attempting to mine cryptocurrencies on smart phones, and there is an entire sub-industry out there to facilitate them.

For those of you old enough to remember, it has shades of the Seti@Home efforts that saw people use their spare CPU cycles to process cosmic signals for potentially coherent ones that might suggest intelligent life.

It was very popular for a while, even prompting some to build dedicated infrastructure for the purpose, but ultimately fell out of favour as little was found and uptake overtook available monitoring results.

One feels that cryptomining as a popular pastime is likely to go the same way.



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