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.

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Israeli Hacker Indicted For $1.75 Million Cryptocurrency Theft

A hacker from Tel Aviv named Eliyahu Gigi was recently indicted for his alleged role in stealing roughly NIS 6.1 million (or $1.75 million) in cryptocurrencies from people in numerous different countries, including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

According the indictment filed this week, Gigi operated numerous scam websites that infected computers with malware that would steal cryptocurrencies that were stored on the devices.

The hacker stole nearly $2 million worth of bitcoin, ethereum, and dash, before they were arrested in June of this year. Gigi carefully covered his tracks by attempting to use remote servers and doing his best to conceal the cryptocurrencies and the wallet addresses that they were stored in.

He then transferred the currencies between different wallets, split them into different cryptocurrencies and used other tactics to obfuscate the ownership of the funds.

During the investigation, it was initially suspected that Gigi was guilty of stealing $100 million, however, once the investigation was concluded, that number was significantly scaled down to less than $2 million.

According to the Israeli publication Globes the investigation was conducted by the Israeli Police's cyber unit, and led to the arrest of Gigi and his younger brother, a 22-year-old demobilized soldier. The news outlet adds:

At the outset of the investigation, suspicions were raised that the two brothers had stolen $100 million from digital accounts kept in bitcoin through an international fishing fraud. The indictment eventually filed was against only the older brother, and the initial suspicions that $100 million had been stolen were scaled down to NIS 6 million. [$1.75 million]

Police were initially tipped off to the crime after receiving reports the hacker was sending messages to users on cryptocurrency forums, directing them to a website that claimed to offer wallet management software.

Some of the users who received the message thought that the website looked suspicious. Worried about their security, they reported the websites and Gigi's forum accounts to police.