Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are in the news every day, sometimes because of an astronomical surge in their price and at other times, for a big hack that erodes all value. Even if you’re sensible enough to resist the temptation to invest in these volatile currencies, there’s a new risk you need to deal with.
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Quite a few websites are running cryptocurrency mining scripts that use your computer (or smartphone) to make money. Many of these websites don’t even inform users that they’re doing this, sometimes because they aren’t aware that a hacker has installed the scripts and at other times because the lure of money is way too strong for ethics.
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If you don’t want to see ads, you could perhaps allow websites to use your machine to mine cryptocurrencies as an alternative way of monetisation. Lots of people wouldn’t even mind allowing this if websites asked for permission. However, many websites don’t do that and you need to guard yourself against these because mining cryptocurrencies slows down your computer, reduces battery life, and even hurts the overall life of its components. Here’s how to prevent websites from surreptitiously using your computer to mine cryptocurrencies.
Block cryptocurrency mining via browser extensions
If you’re on desktop and using Google Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, it’s quite easy to block coin mining scripts. Just install the No Coin extension (Google Chrome | Mozilla Firefox | Opera). This will stop coin mining websites from running scripts on your browser, and the developer has pledged to keep this list updated for the time being. Popular adblocking extensions such as Adblock and uBlock have also updated their filters to block these scripts.
If you use other browsers such as Safari or Microsoft Edge, you could try using the Ghostery extension, which also blocks some of these scripts. If you notice that the browser doesn’t block any particular coin mining script, you could email Ghostery and get it added to the database.
A cryptocurrency mining rig
Block cryptocurrency mining via antivirus apps
Most antivirus software now block cryptocurrency mining scripts. The only catch is that this feature may not be available on the free tier and you might have to pay for these. Malwarebytes is one of several antivirus apps that let you block cryptocurrency mining scripts on Windows and Mac, and the advantage to this approach is that it blocks these scripts across the system — so no need to enable it individually in browsers and apps.
On iPhone and iPad
- Go to Settings > Safari.
Note that this will break a lot of websites and you may not be able to read or watch stuff online as you used to. Websites could look like they were designed in 1995 — with too much text, non-functional buttons, and missing pictures or videos, which is far from an ideal scenario in this day and age. Using a content blocker app is a much better approach. Follow these steps to use 1Blocker.
- Install 1Blocker.
- Go to Settings > Safari > Content Blockers and enable 1Blocker.
- 1Blocker lets you enable any one filter for free, so open 1Blocker and enable Block Trackers to block coin mining sites.
At the moment, we couldn’t find a way to block these scripts in Firefox for iOS, or Chrome for iOS.
On Android, it’s simple enough to block cryptocurrency mining scripts if you use Firefox or Chrome. Follow these steps for Firefox.
- Tap the three dots on the top right > Add-ons > Browse all Firefox addons.
- Search for No Coin, select it and tap Add to Firefox.
This will block all cryptocurrency mining scripts on Firefox for Android. The following steps will help you do the same thing on Google Chrome for Android.
- Tap the three dots on the top right > Settings > Site Settings.
This should keep you safe from cryptocurrency mining on the Internet. Which method do you use to guard yourself from this? Let us know via the comments. For more tutorials visit our How To section.