James Wagner, Extensions Platform Product Manager of Google, took to the behemothâ€™s Chromium Blog on Monday in a post titled, Protecting Users from Extension Cryptojacking. â€œStarting today,â€� Mr. Wagner explained, â€œChrome 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.â€�
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Google Moves Against Cryptojacking
â€œOver the past few months,â€� Mr. Wagner began, â€œthere 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 userâ€™s consent. These mining scripts often consume significant CPU resources, and can severely impact system performance and power consumption.â€�
Cryptojacking has shown up in various places, from Pirate Bay to Salon, and as a phenomenon is only a few months old. Heck, even Elon Muskâ€™s projects have been â€œinfiltrated,â€� as â€œTeslaâ€™s Kubernetes console (a system for containerized apps that was originally designed by Google) which was not password protectedâ€� was hit by cryptojacking. As these pages examined just a short while ago, â€œthe extent of the problem has been vastly overstated. Smart criminals arenâ€™t covertly crypto mining in-browser, not because theyâ€™re incapable of doing so, but because even at scale it simply isnâ€™t profitable.â€�
True as that might be, it evidently has become an annoyance for enough users that Google has taken notice. â€œUntil now, Chrome Web Store policy has permitted cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as it is the extensionâ€™s single purpose,â€� Mr. Wagner detailed, â€œand 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.â€�
Of course it was only two weeks ago, the largest search engine on the planet announced formally it will restrict advertisement of â€œCryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice),â€� including aggregators and affiliates regarding â€œcryptocurrencies and related content.â€�
Mr. Wagner ends by reminding how the â€œextensions platform provides powerful capabilities that have enabled our developer community to build a vibrant catalog 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.â€�
Have you ever been cryptojacked? Let us know in the comments!
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