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Crypto mining is the process in which transactions of various kinds of cryptocurrencies are verified and added to that cryptocurrency’s blockchain. It is an inherently expensive job as the processor inside of your GPU or CPU has to solve complex mathematical problems as fast as possible in order to increase the revenue; which means that mining requires an investment of funds to purchase well-performing computer hardware.
Unless, of course, you can steal other people’s processing power through their browser when they visit your website, a malicious practice also known as crypto-jacking. This practice not only slows down the users’ computer but also drains their battery, costing them indirectly through their electricity bills. Over the past year, crypto-jacking has become quite prevalent on the internet.
Websites can write scripts in different programming languages that automatically start running on your browser when you visit them. These scripts can do a number of different tasks. The most harmful of which can be stealing your information or hardware resources to perform tasks that only benefit the owner of the website, hurting you in the process.
Firefox, one of the most famous browsers in the world, recently announced in a blog post that they have added an option to block websites from stealing your computer’s hardware resources to perform cryptocurrency mining through scripts without your consent. The feature has been released on the Nightly version of Firefox and is still in its testing phases. However, the folks over at Firefox aim to push the standard version of their browser and turn the blocking feature on by default.
Firefox released this feature in collaboration with Disconnect, a platform dedicated to protecting internet users’ privacy. The blog post announcing the released of the feature states:
“In collaboration with Disconnect, we have compiled lists of domains that serve fingerprinting and crypto mining scripts. Now in the latest Firefox Nightly and Beta versions, we give users the option to block both kinds of scripts as part of our Content Blocking suite of protections.”
Along with the option to block scripts from performing cryptocurrency mining, Firefox also released another feature which stops these scripts from creating essentially a fingerprint of your computer. This fingerprint can be used to track your online activity, even after you delete cookies.
These scripts are considered a gross violation of user’s privacy and often hold no regard for their consent, which is why the steps taken by Firefox are being welcomed by the community.