Google Chrome, one of the most used web browsers on the market, has recently announced it would not accept any extension related to the mining of cryptocurrencies. This decision was made in order to combat the web mining software that steals the user’s computer resources and uses them to mine cryptocurrencies in the background on behalf of a third party.
The development team behind Google Chrome considers this type of extensions as hidden risks and this is why all the extensions related to the mining of cryptocurrencies are banned from the Chrome Web Store. Likewise, the already listed extensions related to the mining of cryptocurrencies will be eliminated from the Chrome Web Store in June this year.
The Google Chrome development team says: “As the extensions ecosystem continues to evolve, we remain focused on empowering developers to build innovative experiences while keeping our users as safe as possible. Over the past few months, there has been a rise in malicious extensions that appear to provide useful functionality on the surface, while embedding hidden cryptocurrency mining scripts that run in the background without the user’s consent. These mining scripts often consume significant CPU resources, and can severely impact system performance and power consumption.”
The announcement was made on the official Google Chrome blog and it says the rest of the apps related to the blockchain technology will still be available to the users: “Starting today, Chrome Web Store will no longer accept extensions that mine cryptocurrency. Existing extensions that mine cryptocurrency will be delisted from the Chrome Web Store in late June. Extensions with blockchain-related purposes other than mining will continue to be permitted in the Web Store. Improving the ads experience across the web, whether that’s removing harmful ads or intrusive ads, will continue to be a top priority for us.”
James Wagner, Google’s extensions platform product manager said: “The extensions platform provides powerful capabilities that have enabled our developer community to build a vibrant catalogue of extensions that help users 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. This policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks.”
The Google Chrome development team considers the use of web mining software to be a constant violation of their usage policies. Until now and according to these policies, any application for the mining of cryptocurrencies could be listed in the Chrome Web Store if its only objective was to mine cryptocurrencies with authorization from the user. However, according to the numbers provided in the blog post, 90% of the cryptocurrency mining apps that tried to get listed in the store did not fulfill the aforementioned requirements. This means there is a possibility that these applications could take advantage of the processing power of the users’ computers. Wagner added: “Until now, Chrome Web Store policy has permitted cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as it is the extension’s single purpose, and the user is adequately informed about the mining behavior. 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 been either rejected or removed from the store.”
This is the essence of the controversies related to the web mining software as an alternative to the ads on web pages. The point is that no one would like to have his or her computer to earn money without authorization. Numerous examples of the theft of computer resources were seen on pornographic websites and even on the ads on YouTube.
When the web mining software takes over the computer resources of the users, it generates a lot of workload for the computer, which can affect in a negative way the life of the infected computers, because they are not made to work under a constant load.
Opera, another popular web browser, took less drastic measures than Google Chrome. Opera developed applications against web mining software, which can also be used to protect smartphones from this malicious software.