Popular Web Browser Firefox to Start Blocking Cryptojacking Malware

  • Firefox is set to start blocking cryptocurrency mining malware
  • The moves comes as the browser attempts to "give users a voice" when browsing the web.

Firefox, one of the world’s most popular web browsers, is set to start blocking cryptojacking malware by default in order to improve user experience and enhance its performance, in an anti-tracking initiative.

Through a blog post, the organization behind the open-source browser revealed it plans on blocking trackers and other harmful practices to “give users a voice.” Some of its new features, per the blog post, are already available in its Firefox Nightly beta version.

The post, written by Mozilla’s vice president of product Nick Nguyen, details Firefox will mitigate deceptive practices that include fingerprinting users – a technique used to “invisibly identify users by their device properties” and cryptojacking. It reads:

Other sites have deployed cryptomining 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.

Cryptojacking essentially consists of websites adding scripts to their code that let them use their visitors’ CPU resources to mine cryptocurrencies. While some websites ask users to use their CPUs instead of showing them ads, most use them without letting users know.

These scripts often ruin browsing experiences and can physically damage devices if they overheat. Over the past few months cryptojacking became a popular trend, as McAfee labs revealed cryptojacking malware cases increased by 629% in the first quarter of this year.

A study commissioned by Citrix and executed by OnePoll earlier this month revealed that 59% of businesses in the UK have, at some point, been hit with cryptojacking attacks. The trend grew so much that the Uk National Cyber Security Center revealed it is seen as a “significant” threat.

Firefox’s features are set to be tested on its Firefox Nightly beta version, and will be rolled out to a stable Firefox release by default if the company’s approach “performs well.” Firefox is notably one of various browser developers blocking cryptojacking malware and addressing the cryptocurrency space.

As CryptoGlobe covered Google has recently removed cryptocurrency mining apps from its Play Store, months after removing extensions from Chrome’s web store. Despite the tech giant’s move, several crypto mining apps were still on its app store after the ban.

Opera, a browser that recently introduced a mobile browser for Android with a built-in crypto wallet, rolled out mining script protection for its mobile users in January of this year. The feature was already featured on its desktop version by default. Notably, Opera is set to add its built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its desktop browser.

The Brave browser, founded by JavaScript creator and Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, also blocks trackers and cryptocurrency mining malware by default. Brave, as covered, recently surpassed 10 million downloads on Google’s Play store.

Young Australian Woman Accused of Stealing 100,000 XRP Pleads Guilty

Siamak Masnavi

Katherine Nguyen, the first Australian charged with cryptocurrency theft, has pleaded guilty.

Background

On 25 October 2018, according to a report in media outlet "news.com.ua", police in the state of New South Wales in Australia arrested a 23-year-old woman from Sydney over the alleged theft of 100,000 XRP tokens.

Apparently, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad had set up a task force back in January 2018 to investigate the reported theft of 100,000 XRP tokens from a 56-year-old man. The investigators were told by the alleged victim that he was locked out of his email account for two days in mid-January 2018, but he thinks that his email account may have gotten hacked in December 2017.

After he managed to eventually get back control of his email account, he noticed some suspicious activity involving his cryptocurrency account, and when he checked this wallet, he found that almost all of the crypto there had disappeared.

However, after an approximately ten-month investigation, on 25 October 2018, detectives used a search warrant to get access to the young woman's home, arrested her, and took her to Ryde (a suburb of Sydney) Police station, where they charged her with "knowingly deal with proceeds of crime." 

The police were alleging that the woman (possibility with the help of others) took over the man's email account, changed his password, thereby locking him account, and then set up two factor authentication using a mobile phone number. It is further alleged that she then accessed his crypto account, and transferred his XRP tokens to a crypto exchange in China, where this XRP was converted to Bitcoin.

Latest Development

On Friday (August 23), Australian TV news channel 7NEWS sent out the following tweet:

According to their report, in January 2018, Nguyen, the alleged cryptocurrency thief, "hijacked" the email account of a 56-year old man with the same surname as her. 

The report goes on to say that although Nguyen has pleaded guilty, there is "still some dispute over the exact facts," which will hopefully be "settled at a special hearing in October" (this hearing has been given the task of preparing "a pre-sentence report").

When she is sentenced in October, there is a real possibility that she will have to go to jail.

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