The Pirate Bay, the world’s most popular torrent website, was recently spotted testing a Monero cryptocurrency miner on their websites. The website confessed that it could be using coin mining in future to keep the website running. This was followed by some other reports of similar nature.
This practice isn’t new, but the Pirate Bay was the first popular website that was seen using a cryptocurrency miner. This has also fueled the ethics debate as the website owners are found to be keeping the visitors in the dark.
However, I was surprised to notice that many users who commented on the article and Facebook didn’t mind their favorite website using their CPU power to earn revenue. This could be due to the fact that torrent websites are home to tons of notorious advertising. Before going ahead and telling you how to block cryptocurrency mining in the web browser, let me tell you how to find out if you’re already becoming a target of such mining activities —
How to find out if my PC is secretly mining cryptocurrency?
Apart from ransomware, bitcoin mining malware are rising in popularity at an exponential rate. In case the culprit is some website which is using your web browser to mine crypto coins, you can find that out easily.
The Pirate Bay users spotted the miner due to a huge spike in CPU usage when they visited the website. You can also use the same technique to see if a particular website is sweating your processor and earning money. In case most of the browser tabs are closed, and no applications are running, there are chances that you are becoming a target of such mining campaign. If you aren’t much tech-savvy, you can perform hit and trial with the suspected websites and see which one of them is spiking the CPU usage. The tech-savvy users can perform this task much efficiently with the help of resource monitoring tools.
Apart from opening Windows Task Manager with Ctrl+Alt+Delete or Activity Monitor on Mac by pressing Command + Space and search for Activity Monitor, you can open Chrome’s task manager by going to Menu > More Tools > Task Manager. It’ll show tab-wise CPU usage in Chrome and help you spot the culprit.
How to block cryptocurrency mining in web browser?
Most of the websites that are making TPB-like headlines are using a new service called Coin Hive for mining. There are few simple ways to block such activities:
1. Use No Coin Chrome Extension
Installing Chrome extensions is the most straightforward method to stop coin mining in the web browser. No Coin is one such free solution. This open-source extension is a reliable and safe way to control how a website is interacting with your web browser.
As soon as you visit a website, No Coin will detect and show if any such activity is going on. You’ll see a red symbol as shown in the screenshot below. While this extension blocks any such activity, it also allows you to whitelist a website for a period of time.
2. Use minerBlock Chrome extension
Just like No Coin, minerBlock Chrome extension is another open-source tool that you can use to block cryptocurrency mining in the web browser. These extensions currently list a few popular miner domains to their list, and they are expected to add more once they get popularity.
Here’s how minerBlock notification looked like when I visited Coin Hive’s website:
3. Block coin mining domains in hosts file
This is the manual way of blocking particular domains that you don’t find harmful or irritating. Due to such blocking, your browser won’t be able to connect to these domains. We can edit the hosts file and redirect it to 0.0.0.0.
In Linux, you need to open the hosts file by running following command and add 0.0.0.0 coin-hive.com to the end of the document:
sudo nano /etc/hosts
In Linux, run the following command:
sudo nano /private/etc/hosts
For Windows, navigate to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc and edit the hosts document to add 0.0.0.0 coin-hive.com at the end.
Please note that this change blocks the mining scripts which are hosted by coin-hive.com. In case you come across other mining script domains, you can add them further down the line.
4. Block domains in Ad blocker
Ad blocking extensions like AdBlock can help you block cryptocurrency mining. Depending on your web browser, you can find relevant settings to block particular domains. For example, in Chrome, for AdBlock, navigate to the list of extension and find AdBlock. There, look for Customize > Block an ad by its URL. Then, add the following text in the text box:
5. Use NoScripts in Firefox
6. How to block CoinHive using Opera web browser
With release of Opera 50 web browser, the company brought in-built functionality to block CoinHive scripts and cryptocurrency mining techniques. This will allow the users to make sure that their computers don’t go crazy whenever any website using the digital coin mining technique is encountered. The users can find this option in Settings (Preferences on macOS) > Basic > Block ads and under the Recommended lists of ad filters.
7. Use Malwarebytes
Installing a reputed antimalware solution could act as an alternative to installing Chrome anti miner extensions like Nocoin. The advantage of using a solution like Malwarebytes is that it offers protection to your complete device. Malwarebytes also offers an Android app which comes with 30 days free trial. Other top antivirus programmes for your computer have also started offering miner adblocking protection.
Should I really go ahead and stop cryptocurrency mining?
The answer to this question depends on the website which is using a crypto miner. If the website is notifying you as soon as you visit it and you’re comfortable with it, then it’s no harm. Another point that you must take into consideration is the mining load that your CPU would bear. A website should also let you know how much processing power does it intend to utilize.
In case you’re willing to support your favorite website via this alternative source of revenue and they are being honest about their practices, things are fine.
Did you find this article to stop a website for mining digital coins helpful? Don’t forget to share your views and feedback with us.