Firefox Set to Automatically Block Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Scripts

The next version of Firefox will be equipped with blockers to stop unsuspecting attacks.
Jessica Miley

The Mozilla powered browser, Firefox will soon start to automatically block cryptocurrency mining malware scripts. Firefox Nightly will run a test version of the new feature and if all goes well Firefox users will take advantage of the feature once Firefox 63 is released.

“Sites have deployed crypto mining scripts that silently mine cryptocurrencies on the user's device. Practices like these make the web a more hostile place to be. Future versions of Firefox will block these practices by default,” Mozilla vice president of product Nick Nguyen said in a blog post last week.

Report finds clandestine cryptocurrency mining on the rise

Global cybersecurity solutions provider Trend Micro recently released a report that showed they have found a 96% increase in cryptocurrency mining detections in the first half of 2018 compared to all of 2017.

The company also revealed that cybercriminals are moving towards methods in-browser crypto jacking rather than ransomware. These in-browser attacks do not require the release of infected programs nor any hidden malware.

In these cases, clandestine miners simply insert a malicious JavaScript on their web pages, which begins crypto mining auctions every time that particular site is visited. While possibly less lethal than the other types of ransom and malware attacks, these silent and secret attacks suck computing power away from the targeted machines severely affecting user experience.

Opera led the way in protecting users

Firefox follows behind browser Opera which began to offer its users protection from unwanted crypto mining activities last year. The company also offers that same protection for the mobile version of its browser.

“When you browse the web, there are no visual clues that your device is exposed to mining,” says Jan Standal, VP Product Marketing at Opera “A single webpage you visit can take up to 4.5 hours of your battery time if you keep the tab open.

This often turns out to be just the battery time you needed to use a ride-hailing app or check the map to get home”. Google has taken steps towards a browsing experience free from clandestine cryptocurrency mining activities by banning crypto mining applications from its mobile Play Store.

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Although this gallant step was marred by the news, some of these applications were lingering in the store long after the cutoff date for extinction. Some companies tried to use cryptocurrency mining as a legitimate revenue-raising method but have had limited success.

The torrent site, Pirate Bay used a script that could mine for Monero as part of a test to cut down on ads within the site. They hoped by utilizing the cryptocurrency mining script they could generate funds to allow them to keep operating without their graphic ads. The test lasted a few weeks and currently the Pirate Bay site is down.



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