by Cindy Huynh
According to Google’s Chromium Blog, Google has decided to ban all crypto mining extensions from its chrome store on April 2, 2018.
Protecting Users: Google to Block Mining Extensions
While the Chrome Web Store previously permitted cryptocurrency mining on the condition that the user is “adequately informed” and “it is the extension’s single purpose,” Google soon discovered that most extensions with mining scripts failed to comply with these policies.
As such, the Chrome Web Store will no longer accept new extensions that mine cryptocurrencies and Google will delist any cryptocurrency mining extensions in the store in late June 2018.
The technology giant decided to block mining extensions to allow their chrome users to benefit from browser extensions while minimizing any potential harm. Google will, however, permit any blockchain-related extensions that exclude cryptocurrency mining in the Web Store.
Although Google’s focus is on encouraging and empowering developers to build new chrome extensions, there has been an increasing number of extensions that initially appear useful and functional, are embedded with cryptocurrency mining scripts.
These scripts tend to run in the background without the user’s permission.
“The key to maintaining a healthy extension ecosystem is to keep the platform open and flexible,” said James Wagner, Google’s extensions platform product manager.
“We chose to defer banning extensions with crypto mining scripts until it became clear that the vast majority of mining extensions submitted for review failed to comply with our single purpose policy or were malicious.”
Unfortunately, the mining scripts tend to consume high levels of CPU resources and can impact the power consumption and computer’s performance over time. “This policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks,” said Wagner.
The developers from The Chromium Projects, an open-source project created by Google to furnish source code for Chrome, also raised similar concerns about the increasing number of mining extensions. Google’s ban on crypto mining extensions is, therefore, one of many recent decisions Google has done to protect their users against a growing number of malicious software.
Google’s Cryptocurrency and ICO Adword Ban
In March 2018, Google also released an update to their financial services policy to restrict any advertisements serving cryptocurrencies and any related content in June. To protect their users, Google banned these cryptocurrency ads because they are “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.”
While Google’s crackdown appears strict, their concerns for users are very valid. According to a Microsoft blog post on March 13, 2018, 644,000 computers on average are infected with cryptocurrency mining malware from September 2017 to January 2018.
While on the business end, software security firm Check Point issued a report that shows around 55 percent of businesses worldwide remain affected by crypto jacking.
Regarding how much this costs for consumers, a recent report from Trustwave’s Spider Labs estimated that the sheer energy costs for a computer could range from $2.90 to $5 per month. While this number doesn’t sound like much, it, however, does not include the costs of wear and tear on computer hardware.