Firefox Plans to Block Crypto Mining Malware in Future Releases

Analysis

Firefox, the popular Web browser, will soon begin automatically blocking crypto mining malware scripts as part of a wider performance-enhancing push.

The Mozilla Foundation, the not-for-profit organization behind the open-source browser, said Thursday that it intends to block trackers and other “harmful practices” in upcoming releases.

Some of these features, such as the anti-tracking function, are already available in its Firefox Nightly beta version.

The goal is to prevent third-party scripts from hampering the user experience, according to Mozilla vice president of product Nick Nguyen. These scripts are generally embedded within websites and can commandeer a user’s computing power without their knowledge.

Scripts that hijack an individual’s unused computer power to mine cryptocurrencies also fall into this category.

“Deceptive practices that invisibly collect identifiable user information or degrade user experience are becoming more common,” Nguyen wrote, adding:

“For example, some trackers fingerprint users — a technique that allows them to invisibly identify users by their device properties, and which users are unable to control. 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.”

The Firefox Nightly version will be used to test the functionality of the new features. And if successful, users may begin seeing them enabled by default in the Firefox 63 release.

Mozilla joins other browser developers, including Opera and Google, in trying to protect its users from malicious miners, which can slow down the user experience at best and damage their computers at worst.

Opera announced in January that it was rolling out miner protection to the smartphone version of its browser, which would also be active by default. The company already offered cryptominer protection on its desktop version.

Google, meanwhile, has banned any cryptomining apps from its Play Store, though it has not made any official statements regarding automatically blocking scripts embedded within websites.

Firefox image via Faizal Ramli / Shutterstock

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