Smartphones notoriously lose battery life as they get older—but if your phone is dying at lightning pace, it might be secretly mining cryptocurrency for someone else’s benefit. Mozilla is the latest browser to crack down on the hijacking miners.
Mozilla will enable crypto-jacking protection by default on its Firefox Nightly browser within weeks. The company announced that both its Nightly and Beta platforms will now have the option of crypto-jacking protection in a blog post on Tuesday—and it will be able to block fingerprinting too, a method used to track users surreptitiously from one website to the next.
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The new protection takes the form of a blocklist. Mozilla has hired Delaware cybersecurity firm Disconnect.me to compile a list of “domains that serve fingerprinting and crypto mining scripts,” the company announced. When the protection is enabled, the browser can block those scripts.
Before now, Firefox users could protect themselves to some extent with the free browser add-on NoCoin, which also boils down to a blocklist of risky domains.
A CPU normally uses 10-15 percent of its capacity when the user is idle—but more than 75 percent if mining script is active at the time.
Other browsers have had their own problems with crypto-jacking. A year ago, Google said it would ban from its store all Chrome extensions that mine cryptocurrency, because of a rise in extensions doing this without the user’s consent. The company found that a CPU normally uses 10-15 percent of its capacity when the user is idle—but more than 75 percent if mining script is active at the time.
The threat of crypto-jacking has grown very rapidly in the last two years. Cybersecurity firms have been reporting alarming numbers since the phenomenon first arose in 2017. Symantec found that detections of cryptocurrency mining attacks increased by 8,500 percent that year—and Webroot reported that they accounted for 35 percent of all online threats last year.