What Is Crypto Mining?

Cryptojacking

A common subject in online forums is crypto mining (or “cryptomining,” if you’d prefer). You’ve also seen videos and read posts on Blockchain, Dash, Ethereum, and cryptocurrencies of other sorts. And the question of cryptocurrency mining always comes up in those pieces of material. “But it may all leave you wondering, “What is Bitcoin mining? “or “What is the crypto-mining industry? ”

In a nutshell, cryptocurrency mining is a concept that applies to the cryptocurrency collection method as a compensation for the job you complete. (This is known as Bitcoin mining when it comes directly to mining Bitcoins.) So why do people mine cryptography? For others, they search for a new source of revenue. For others, without policymakers or banks butting in, it’s about achieving greater financial independence. But whatever the cause, for technophiles, investors, and cybercriminals alike, cryptocurrencies are an increasing field of concern.

So, what is (in a more technical sense) crypto-currency mining and how does it work? Let’s break down this.

What Is Crypto Mining? Cryptocurrency Mining Explained

Through solving cryptographic equations with the use of computers, the term crypto mining means obtaining cryptocurrencies. Validating data blocks and applying transaction information to a public record (ledger) known as a blockchain are part of this method.

Cryptocurrency mining is a transactional method in a more scientific context, requiring the use of computers and cryptographic methods to solve complex functions and record a blockchain with details. In fact, there are whole networks of devices participating in cryptomining and across such blockchains that hold shared records.

It is necessary to note that the demand for cryptocurrencies is itself an option to the conventional financial structure we are using globally. So, you first need to consider the distinction between centralized and decentralized systems to better understand how crypto mining works.

Traditional Banks Are Centralized Systems

There is a central authority in conventional banking that regulates, manages and updates a centralized record that (ledger). That implies that any single transaction needs to go through the mechanism of central banking, where it is registered and checked. Plus, it’s a narrow method, allowing only a select selection of companies (banks) to link directly to the centralized banking system.

Cryptocurrencies Use Decentralized, Distributed Systems

There is no central authority for crypto-currencies, nor is there a centralized ledger. This is because cryptocurrencies run using a public database (more on this shortly) known as the blockchain in a decentralized framework. Unlike the conventional financial system, anybody can be directly linked to the blockchain “system” and invest in it. Without passing to a central bank, you can send and receive payments. That’s why it’s called the digital money of decentralization.

Yet in addition to being decentralized, a distributed system is also a cryptocurrency. This ensures that the database (ledger) of all transactions is open to the public and maintained on many separate machines. This differs from the conventional banks, which are centralized structures, that we described earlier.

But how are transactions checked before being added to the register without a central bank? Cryptocurrency uses cryptographic algorithms to validate transactions instead of using a central banking mechanism to verify transactions (for instance, making sure the sender has enough money to fund the payment).

And that’s where miners from Bitcoin come in. For each transaction, running the cryptographic calculations adds up to a lot of computational time. To do the cryptographic work needed to add new transactions to the ledger, miners use their machines. They get a tiny amount of cryptocurrencies themselves as a thank-you.

Is Crypto Mining Legal?

The response, in general, is yes. Determining whether crypto mining is legal or illegal depends mainly on two main factors:

  • Your geographic location, and
  • Whether you mine crypto through legal means.

However, it is when you use illegitimate methods to mine cryptocurrencies that you start to tread into the territories of criminal activities. For eg, some cybercriminals use Javascript in browsers or install malware on the computers of unwitting users to “hijack” the processing capacity of their devices. This form of cyber intrusion is referred to as cryptojacking. Later this month, we are going to publish a separate article on that topic, so stay tuned.

But it’s important to remember that various governments across the globe interpret blockchain mining differently. The U.S. Library of Congress released a paper claiming that, for example, mining Bitcoin in Germany is seen as fulfilling a service at the root of the blockchain framework of Bitcoin. The LOC also notes that Bitcoin mining is being cracked down by many local governments in China, causing many companies to stop mining Bitcoin altogether.

In addition, some countries regard cryptocurrency mining revenues to be taxable, while others see the fruits of those operations as non-taxable revenue.

We’re going to learn a little bit on what makes cryptocurrency and crypto mining so enticing. But first, let’s break down the basic functioning of cryptocurrency mining. We will discuss the systems and procedures that are used with it in order to achieve this.

How Cryptomining Works (And an In-Depth Look at Blockchain)

In a nutshell, in the context of cryptocurrency, crypto miners validate the validity of transactions to reap the benefits of their effort. You must first learn the technology and mechanisms behind it to understand how most cryptocurrency mining performs in a more technological context. It means learning what the blockchain is and how it functions.

The first thing to know is that two things are fundamental to the blockchain concept: encryption of the public key and math. Although I’m certainly a fan of the former, I’ll confess that my strong suit isn’t the second. However, in blockchains, such as burgers and beer, public key cryptography (aka public key encryption or asymmetric encryption) and math go together.

A digital database known as Blockchain is used for conventional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. A blockchain is a collection of blocks of chained code containing key data pieces, including cryptographic hashes. This blocks, which are an integral part of a blockchain, are data exchange classes that are attached at the end of the ledger. Not only does this add a transparency element, but as users get to see their transactions being linked (chained) to the blockchain, it also acts as an ego inflator. While their names are not mentioned on it, it quite always evokes a sense of pride and enthusiasm.

Breaking Down the Roles and Processes Within the Bitcoin Blockchain

In the creation of a blockchain, there are many main elements and procedures involved. We will use Bitcoin as our analogy for this explanation:

Nodes. This are the people and computers that are present inside the blockchain (such as your computer and the computers of other cryptocurrency miners).
Miners are the individual nodes whose job is to validate (“solve”) unconfirmed blocks in the blockchain by checking the hashes. If a block is checked by a miner, the validated block is then added to the blockchain. A cryptocurrency is awarded by the first miner who reveals to the rest of the nodes that they have solved the hash.
Transactions. The thing that gets this party underway, I say, the rolling phase of cryptocurrency mining, is a purchase. To put it plainly, a contract is a two-party trade of cryptocurrencies. To form a list that is attached to an unconfirmed block, every single transaction is bundled with others. Then the miner nodes must validate each data block.
Hashes. Such one-way cryptographic features are what enable nodes to check the authenticity of cryptocurrency mining operations. A hash in the blockchain is an integral component of every block. By merging the header details from the previous blockchain block with a nonce, a hash is created.
Nonces.  A nonce is a crypto-speak used only once to represent a number. NIST defines a nonce essentially as “a random or non-repeating value.” The nonce is added to the hash in each block of the blockchain in crypto mining and is the number for which the miners are solving.
Consensus algorithm. This is a blockchain protocol that allows multiple notes inside a distributed network to enter into an agreement to validate details. It is assumed that the first form of consensus algorithm is “proof of work,” or PoW.
Blocks. These are the individual parts which undermine each blockchain overall. A list of completed transactions is found in each cube. Blocks, once they have been confirmed, cannot be changed. Making improvements to old blocks ensures that all the other nodes in the peer-to-peer network will then have to identify the hash of the changed block and those of any block that has been added to the blockchain since the initial block was released. Simply placed, changing old blocks is practically impossible.
Blockchain. The blockchain itself is a set of blocks in chronological order that are listed. Since previously released blocks once they have been applied to the blockchain should not be changed or altered, this ensures a measure of accountability. All will see the transfers, after all.

A Step-by-Step Look at the Crypto Mining Process

All right, it’s time to have a very granular look at the method of mining cryptocurrencies to better appreciate how it functions.

Nodes Verify Transactions Are Legitimate

Transactions are the foundation from which a blockchain with cryptocurrencies is created. So, to understand how this all comes together, let’s consider the following example:

Let’s presume you’re a crypto miner and Andy, your mate, borrows $5,000 from Jake, your other friend, to buy a brand new high-end gaming rig. It’s a top-of-the-line machine that’s packed with the new software configuration software. Andy gives him a partial Bitcoin unit to pay him back (you know, anything from the LED keyboard and gaming mouse to the big multi-screen monitor and killer combination headset with mic). However, it needs to pass a review process for the transaction to close (more on that shortly).

Separate Transactions Are Added to a List of Other Transactions to Form a Block

In the process of crypto mining, the next move is to package all transactions into a list which is then attached to a new, unconfirmed data block. One such transaction will be considered, continuing with the example of the gaming machine transaction, Andy’s Bitcoin transfer to Jake.

It stops any cryptocurrencies from “double spending” by linking their transaction to the blockchain (once the authentication process is complete) by holding a permanent, public record. The record is permanent, meaning that it can never be tampered with or changed.

A Hash and Other Types of Data Are Added to the Unconfirmed Block

Additional info is then applied after enough transactions are added to the block, including the header data and hash from the previous block in the chain and a new hash for the new block. What occurs here is that the most recent block header and a nonce are fused to create the current hash. This hash is applied to the unconfirmed block and a miner node would then need to validate it.

Let’s assume you’re so fortunate enough in this situation to be the one to fix it. You give a shout-out to all the other miners on the network to say you did it and make them try it out as much as possible.

Miners Verify the Block’s Hash to Ensure the Block Is Legitimate

Other miners in the network verify the veracity of the unconfirmed block in this phase of the process by testing the hash.

But exactly how intricate is a hash? As an example, let’s imagine using a SHA-256 hash calculator to add a SHA-256 hash to the plain text expression “I love cryptocurrency mining”. This suggests that the expression becomes “6a0aa6e5058089f590f9562b3a299326ea54dfad1add8f0a141b731580f558a7.” I don’t know about you now, but I’m surely not going to be able to understand or decipher what the long string of ciphertext gibberish means.

Once the Block is Confirmed and the Block Gets Published in the Blockchain

On the crypto miner’s side of things, when the proof of work (PoW) is now complete, this is the time for celebration. The PoW is the time-consuming method of solving the hash and showing to everyone that you have done it legally in a manner that they may validate.

It literally means, from the user’s side of things, that Andy’s transfer of a partial Bitcoin to Jake is now verified and will be added as part of the block to the blockchain. Of default, at the conclusion of the blockchain, the new block gets added as the most recently confirmed block. This is because blockchain ledgers, based on historically published entries, are chronological in nature.

How These Components Work Together in the Blockchain Ecosystem

So, how does this ledger remain protected from illegal changes and manipulation? Both the transactions are secured using public key cryptography for the ledger. They would use a hash for the blocks to be accepted, which can be used by the miner nodes on the network to check that each block is legitimate and unaltered.

Who updates (and how frequently) the blockchain?

Since there is no overarching administrative body for overseeing or monitoring exchanges, it ensures that it is all the duty of the machines that mine the particular form of cryptocurrency to hold the ledger updated. And blockchain releases are regular. Buybitcoinworldwide.com, for example, reports that, by the mining process, the Bitcoin blockchain gains a new block every 10 minutes.

For a blockchain digital currency, since it’s public, everyone can see and change the ledger. To attempt to solve an equation that the blockchain method poses, you do this by using your machine to create random guesses. Your transaction is applied for acceptance to the next data block if effective. If not, you go fishing and keep trying until you’re good in the end. Or else you want to spend your time and money somewhere else.

Now that you know what cryptocurrency mining is and how it operates, let’s take a few moments to explain why cryptocurrencies are drawn to them and that anyone wants to mine them.

Final Thoughts on Cryptocurrency Mining

The mining of cryptocurrency is a fascinating contrast to the conventional centralized networks presently running worldwide. However, in terms of machine and power capital, it is very taxing and is not feasible as a result for many people.

Melina Richardson is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cybers Guards & w-se. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.