Browse Definitions:

Bitcoin mining

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Understanding blockchain: Tutorial for CIOs
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Bitcoin mining is the processing of transactions in the digital currency system, in which the records of current Bitcoin transactions, known as a blocks, are added to the record of past transactions, known as the block chain.

A Bitcoin is defined by the digitally signed record of its transactions, starting with its creation. The block is an encrypted hash proof of work, created in a compute-intensive process. Miners use software that accesses their processing capacity to solve transaction-related algorithms . In return, they are awarded a certain number of Bitcoins per block. The block chain prevents attempts to spend a Bitcoin more than once -- otherwise the digital currency could be counterfeited by copy and paste.

Originally, Bitcoin mining was conducted on the CPUs of individual computers, with more cores and greater speed resulting in more profitability. After that, the system became dominated by multi-graphics card systems, then field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and finally application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), in the attempt to find more hashes with less electrical power usage. 

Due to this constant escalation, it has become hard for prospective new miners to start. This adjustable difficulty is an intentional mechanism created to prevent inflation. To get around that problem, individuals often work in mining pools.

Bitcoin generally started with individuals and small organizations mining. At that time, start-up could be enabled by a single high-end gaming system. Now, however, larger mining organizations might spend tens of thousands on one high-performance, specialized computer.

In the malware world, one of the more prevalent current threats is mining botnet infections, in which user systems mine for Bitcoin without the owners' knowledge and funds are channeled to the botnet master.

See a video explanation of Bitcoin mining:

This was last updated in October 2013

Continue Reading About Bitcoin mining

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...




  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

  • all-flash array (AFA)

    An all-flash array (AFA), also known as a solid-state storage disk system, is an external storage array that uses only flash ...

  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.