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.

Hacker Steals $1,200 Worth of ETH Using GitHub Bots

Hackers have managed to steal $1,200 worth of ether (ETH) from a Reddit user after he accidentally left his wallet’s recovery phrase in a GitHub repository for less than two minutes.

According to Reddit user’s post, the hackers have set up automated bots to scrape GitHub – a popular website to publish code and work on projects – looking for cryptocurrency wallets’ private keys, mnemonic phrases, and other private information such as account passwords. The Redditor wrote:

A hacker got my mnemonic and stole $1,200 in ethereum from my Metamask wallet in under 100 seconds. The hackers were using a bot to scan for the mnemonic phrases across GitHub, and I accidentally left it in my code on a GitHub repo while I was sending to a Hack Money hack-at-hon.

The user added that he still has nearly $700 worth of cryptocurrency on the decentralized finance (DeFi) lending protocol Compound, and that the funds are as good as gone as the bot will siphon the funds out of the wallet as soon as he takes them off of the protocol.

The bots the hacker set up are reportedly automatically submitting transactions to steal the users’ funds whenever they are available, and will even outbid a user-submitted transaction in fees to ensure the malicious transaction is processed by miners first. The user wrote:

Although there are some coins and tokens left, the bot will siphon any ethereum I have to prevent me from moving my coins, and/or outmatch my attempts by supplying more gas.

As CryptoGlobe reported, data from Chainalysis has revealed hackers in the cryptocurrency space have been becoming more active over time, albeit less successful as in 2019 there were eleven major hacks, but none matched the scale of major security breaches that occurred in 2018.

Featured image by Nick Chong on Unsplash.