Industry News

Opera browser updated to stop crypto-currency mining

The last year has seen a rise in the number of websites hogging visitor’s CPU and browser resources by surreptitiously mining for cryptocurrencies while you surf.

Sites like Pirate Bay have found themselves in hot water after visitors discovered it had added CoinHive’s crypto-mining tool which, according to the company’s marketing materials, allows you to “monetize your business with your users’ CPU power.”

Well, crypto-mining may be a way for websites to generate income if they’ve found alternative methods (such as advertising, subscriptions, or sponsorship) don’t work for them but the impact on visiting computers is typically too much for many users to bear – and is particularly unforgivable if the CPU-intensive calculations are being done without consent.

Some sites have even used the dirty trick of continuing to crypto-mine even after the user has left their site, after opening a “pop-under” window hidden beneath the browser.

Opera recently announced that its upcoming Opera 50 release (currently in beta) contains an anti-cryptocurrency mining feature that will surely be well-received by the majority of users.

“Bitcoins are really hot right now, but did you know that they might actually be making your computer hotter? Your CPU suddenly working at 100 percent capacity, the fan is going crazy for seemingly no reason and your battery quickly depleting might all be signs that someone is using your computer to mine for cryptocurrency,” said Opera’s Kornelia Mielczarczyk.

As Opera explains, the new “NoCoin” cryptocurrency-mining protection is provided via the browser’s integrated ad blocker, and can be enabled by simply selecting it under the recommended list of ad filters.

Opera claims that having the feature enabled dramatically reduces the CPU usage when visiting sites containing crypto-mining code.

It’s worth bearing in mind that even if you don’t use the Opera browser it’s possible to block crypto-mining through third-party ad blockers that subscribe to the NoCoin filtering list.

About the author

Graham CLULEY

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats.

Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security.

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