Last year, ransomware was the center of attention when it came to cyberattacks, with WannaCry and NotPetya running wild. Nowadays, it’s cryptocurrency mining which is en vogue – con artists put threats on computers, they start abusing their resources and the revenue then begins rolling in. Reportedly, the most sought out cryptocurrency which is mined with the cryptocurrency mining malware is recorded to be Monero [XMR], a well-known privacy coin. This type of activity is very detrimental to system’s performance and it also puts hardware at risk of malfunction, as well as increases electricity bills. It happens due to viruses of this kind requiring a lot of power and the longer they stay on the device, the more damage they may end up causing. And it’s not just cybercriminals who do this – legitimate sites partake in such practices too.
For Mozilla Firefox browser, things are about to change, as people behind it are looking to combat that by equipping it with protection against cryptomining threats in all the future revisions. The announcement was made on August 30 by the Vice President of product, Nick Nguyen, and the move comes as part of an anti-tracking initiative expected to be implemented over the next few months. Nguyen cites a study which was carried out by the Ghostery extension and says that it helped discover that 55.4% of the total time required to load an average website is spent loading third party trackers.
Those trackers are going to be blocked and a “clear set of controls” is going to be offered to the users, thus giving them more choice over what data they want to share with pages they’re visiting. So silent cryptocurrency mining is promised to be no more and computer’s resources are going to get more breathing room as a result. This isn’t the first time Mozilla takes action against something they consider unacceptable – the company implemented practices in 2016 that encouraged users to pay more attention to their online privacy and security, in a shift that was geared towards data encryption.
This was to be done by rejecting connections to HTTPS secure servers that had weak encryption and establishing a minimum of 1023 bits for TLS handshakes using Diffie-Hellman keys. As far as cryptomining protection goes, Firefox isn’t the first browser to implement it – Opera has done it already and included it into its integrated ad-blocker for Desktop version last December. In January of that year, the company announced that it was planning to add this feature to a mobile version too.
And in August it was announced that future Desktop Opera revisions will include a built-in crypto wallet. Just like its mobile counterpart, it will support tokens and digital collectibles too – product lead of Opera Crypto Charles Hamel said that this integration represents a further step in “making cryptocurrencies and Web 3.0. mainstream.” Google, on their part, is yet to release any official statement on the banning of third-party scripts found on its website, but it’s believed that the company has already imposed a ban on cryptomining apps from its Play store. Facebook and Bing had both forbidden cryptocurrency mining advertisements during the start of the year, citing risks associated with cryptocurrencies as the reason for their actions, but it should be noted that Facebook and Google recently lifted their ban on cryptocurrencies and revised its’ rules for advertisements, with Coinbase becoming the first cryptocurrency platform to have their ads on the social media and established search engines.
Going back to Firefox, the announcement also said that its future versions will pay more attention to improving page performance. Third-party tracking scripts are going to be stopped from negatively impacting the user experience and the feature is currently trialed on Firefox Nightly version, the success of which is expected to be consolidated in Firefox 65 version. At any rate, the steps to protect users from unfair practices are being taken and this is nothing but the good news, as people won’t have to deal with reduced performance anymore.