Opera browser stops your phone from mining bitcoin without consent

2018-01-25 21:00 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Johannesburg - Software company Opera has recently added protection to its mobile browsers against hackers who make use of smartphones to mine cryptocurrencies.

The new anti-cryptocurrency mining feature is activated by default when activating the ad blocker on Opera Mini and Opera for Android. 

The ad blocker can be enabled in “Settings”, and it will automatically detect and stop the mining scripts written into the coding of a webpage.

Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin and ethereum have recently surged in value and Opera said that there has also been an increase in demand for the mining for new coins, known as cryptocurrency mining. 

When Bitcoin was originally introduced, mining required miners to solve basic math equations on the ledger software, blockchain, in order to mine currency. 

This also become slower over time as transactions became more complicated and harder to solve.
However, Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) used for gaming in computers are better and more efficient at solving these equations. 

Now, special processing units which mine cryptocurrency have been built but generate heat and consume a great deal of electricity, but hackers have found a method to use a smartphone or numerous smartphones as part of a Cryptocurrency Rig to earn cryptocurrencies. 

While cryptocurrency miners may use their own data centres, many web developers are increasingly using people’s computers and smartphones for this - often without their consent.

Opera added that the phenomenon is estimated to be affecting more than a billion people worldwide, causing their devices to run warm, become slower and draining their batteries.

“When you browse the web, there are no visual clues that your device is exposed to mining,” said Jan Standal, vice president of Product Marketing at Opera. 

“A single webpage you visit can take up to 4.5 hours of your battery time, if you keep the tab open. This often turns out to be just the battery time you needed to use a ride-hailing app or check the map to get home,” Standal added.

According to Opera, there are currently more than 3 million websites exposed to cryptojacking, so the need for extra protection is bigger than ever. 

By blocking mining scripts, Opera ensures that its users’ smartphones continue to run smoothly and that they have enough battery life for the things they really want or need to be doing.

The Opera Mini browser is available on the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.

Check whether your browser is affected by cryptocurrency mining:

Users who suspect their devices are being used to mine cryptocurrencies are encouraged to visit www.cryptojackingtest.com on mobile or desktop browser to see if their device is impacted by mining.

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