Google Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Extensions in a Bid to Protect Users from Cryptojacking

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Google is no longer accepting extensions from its Chrome Web Store that mine cryptocurrency as it works at protecting users’ from extension cryptojacking.

The California-based company made the announcement earlier this week, stating that existing extensions that mine digital currencies will be delisted from its store in late June. It added, though, that extensions with blockchain-related purposes other than mining will continue to be allowed.

In a blog post from the Chromium Blog – an open source browser project started by Google – it stated that the multinational technology company had previously permitted cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as that was the extension’s single purpose and the user was informed of the mining activity.

“Unfortunately, approximately 90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with these policies, and have either been rejected or removed from the store,” the blog reads.

It adds that over the past few months there has been a rise in ‘malicious extensions’ that give the appearance of being useful. Yet, unbeknown to a user they are embedding hidden cryptojacking scripts in the background that make use of a user’s computing power without their consent.

“These mining scripts often consume significant CPU resources, and can severely impact system performance and power consumption,” it added.

With interest rising in the cryptocurrency market so too is the threat from malicious software intent on undertaking illicit cryptocurrency mining in any way possible. Yet, it seems that cryptojacking has taken off in leaps and bounds over the last six months and is quickly becoming the go-to method.

It’s because of this that Google has decided to take a stand. According to the company, extensions provide powerful capabilities to build a positive developer community that enables users to get the most out of Chrome.

“Unfortunately, these same capabilities have attracted malicious software developers who attempt to abuse the platform at the expense of users,” the blog reads. “This policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks.”

The cryptocurrency mining extension ban follows on from Google’s announcement last month that it will be banning digital currency-related adverts in a new financial products policy starting from June.

In recent months the threat of cryptocurrency mining malware has been felt globally. According to cybersecurity firm Check Point, it reported in February that 23 percent of global organisations were affected by the Coinhive variant at the beginning of the year.

Also in February, U.K. government websites and more than 4,000 websites worldwide were affected by mining malware that used computing power to mine for cryptocurrencies.