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.

Crypto Security and Privacy: Why VPNs Matter

With exchange hacks, crypto thefts and phishing incidents seemingly hitting headlines every week, safely buying and transacting with cryptoassets online has never been more important.

This week saw a particularly poignant lesson in the need for a robust online security strategy, as BitGo Lead Engineer Sean Coonce revealed that he lost over $100,000 from his Coinbase balance as an attacker gained control of his account using a “SIM Port” attack.

One important element in any crypto user’s online security should be a top-tier VPN.

VPNs and Privacy

In addition to a gamut of security and privacy practices crypto users should adopt, including using a hardware wallet and using 2FA authentication (non-SMS), a good VPN can’t be overlooked.

While the top cryptoasset blockchains themselves are quite secure, an individual’s interactions with the blockchain or their funds may not be. VPNs encrypt your data, acting in effect as an extra barrier against anyone who might try and access your information as you are communicating with servers online. The data packets of a crypto transaction in this way become better protected against anyone trying to intercept them as they travel between you and the target - such as an exchange.

When you are using a VPN, all your communications are routed via one of the VPN’s encrypted servers. This also affords you a far greater degree of anonymity, as anyone attempting to track websites you visit, e.g. exchanges, wallets, won’t know when or if you are visiting them.

While these technical features of VPNs make them essential for any crypto user, there are other broader concerns that will likely attract crypto enthusiasts to a quality VPN.

The Spirit of Decentralization

Another important facet of using a VPN is decentralization and the privacy of your information.

Bitcoin was created to fulfil the vision of a decentralized, nation-state resistant currency, allowing people across the globe to exchange value independently. In this vein, VPNs form an essential part of that vision, as it becomes far harder to trace your location.

Whether a VPN stores log files too, will likely form an important part of a crypto users choice of VPN. Some VPN providers, while either dancing around the issue or even claiming that they don’t store records of your internet activity, do in fact log your activity. Choosing a VPN provider that has a proven record of not logging activity, therefore, will matter to many in the crypto community.

One other interesting feature offered by some VPNs is the ability to pay for them using cryptocurrency. While many of the top VPNs don’t offer this feature, those who are particularly conscious of privacy and leaving less of a financial footprint, will factor this capability into their choice of provider.

Getting Started on Your Security Journey

Getting to grips with the potential security minefield that comes with owning and buying cryptoassets is not easy. There are a host of ways you can lose your crypto or leave yourself vulnerable to theft. Making sure you choose the right VPN therefore, should form an important part of your strategy as you seek to secure your crypto and online activity.