Last weekend, The Pirate Bay, a popular torrenting site drew sharp criticism from users as it admitted to hiding details about testing a new service that intentionally used visitors’ CPU power to generate Cryptocurrency profits for itself. Coin Hive, the service used by Pirate Bay allowed it to mine the cryptocurrency called Monero without the consent of users while users had the website opened in a browser tab. This illicit nature highlights the problem of not only unregulated cryptocurrencies but cryptocurrency mining as well.
The scheme appeared to be an attempt by the website to generate revenue for itself. It is believed that miners worked like a botnet. Whenever a user visited the website, its web page sought the user’s permission for allowing it to use its CPU. It then used this power to run a complex hashing algorithm to find a unique string of letters and numbers used for mining Cryptocurrencies. Those who managed to complete the process successfully were rewarded handsomely for cracking the code.
Typically, currency with complex algorithms like Bitcoins, require more time and processing power for mining. However, mining currencies like ‘Monero’ need lesser power and effort. Once this news went public, the website, of course, offered an explanation as t why it was doing it. They said they were trying to generate revenue instead of using ads.
But now that this method has become known, it is quite possible that some other website may start using your computers CPU without your knowledge to mine cryptocurrencies. If you want to avoid such situations, and block websites from mining cryptocurrencies using your CPU via your browser, you can take the following precautionary measures.
Block websites from using your CPU to mine cryptocurrency
ScriptSafe for Chrome
Install minerBlock extension for Chrome
It is a useful extension for Chrome browser to block web-based cryptocurrency miners all over the web. A good feature about the extension is that you can reverse the change i.e, if you do not mind lending your CPU for usage by the miner, you can remove their sites from the list of blocked domains.
NoCoin for Chrome
Alternatively, you can use ‘No Coin’ extension. The extension simply blocks a list of blacklisted domains in *blacklist.txt*. Clicking on the icon shows you a button to pause/unpause its function. Use this simple solution to prevent exploitation of any known/unknown security vulnerabilities without any loss of functionality.
NoScript Security Suite for Firefox
This little extension is for Firefox users. It allows only active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect you against XSS and Clickjacking attacks. Try NoScript.
Stay alert, stay safe!