Search engine giant Google has revealed that their Chrome Web Store is outlawing cryptocurrency, just weeks after Google (including their YouTube subsidiary) did the same. This time though, the cryptocurrency ban pertains to crypto mining (i.e. via Chrome extensions), rather than advertising or marketing.
Indeed, in a Chromium blog post written by James Wagner (Extensions Platform Product Manager) on Monday, he revealed that the “Chrome Web Store will no longer accept extensions that mine cryptocurrency.” For those unaware, the Chrome Web Store is where one can access extensions, which are software programs built to enhance a user’s online browsing experience.
Unfortunately, some extensions can be created with malicious intentions, where its creators will use their ‘offering’ more or less as a gateway that grants them access to what can be sensitive private information. According to Google, “this policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks.”
In relation to cryptocurrency specifically, there has been a surge in what is termed ‘cryptojacking’, which refers to the secret use of one’s computing device (and implicitly, their electricity rates) to mine cryptocurrency like Bitcoin (BTC) or Monero (XMR). The reason for Google’s most recent ban, then, is because ‘cryptojacking’ is mostly (not always) associated with in-browser extensions.
Whilst Google said on Monday that they’d begin blocking any Chrome extension submitted to their Web Store (i.e., those that are able to mine cryptocurrency), it won’t be until late June when extant extensions with this same functionality are removed.
Indeed, the tech giant did have policies in place to deal with mining extensions, and per Wired, some “90 percent of the mining extensions developers submitted weren’t in compliance, and [so] were either blocked or slipped through before later being removed.”
Notably, Chrome extensions with other types of blockchain functionality are to be permitted as per usual.
Whilst malicious developers were dealt a blow today with the Chrome extension ban, it’s only a matter of time until a more complex way of stealing is conjured up. In fact, Wired also reported that “attackers have been increasingly developing ways to conceal an extension’s mining functionality until after it gets Chrome Web Store approval.”
Such is the perpetual “cat and mouse” between cybersecurity and cyber-hackers…
Image From Shuttestock