In another cryptocurrency crackdown, Google has announced that it has banned cryptocurrency mining browser extensions from its Chrome store. Unlike controversial recent bans on cryptocurrency marketing and advertising, however, this latest ban appears to be without any doubt a very beneficial step for consumers. While Google had been putting off a decision on cryptocurrency mining extensions for many months, it became clear that the overwhelming majority of extensions, perhaps as high as 90%, were in violation of Google’s policies and were possibly malicious.
As cryptocurrency mining becomes more expensive, many unscrupulous miners have attempted to siphon electricity or computing power from unsuspecting victims. Sometimes this comes from surreptitious hookups to electrical grids, other times it comes from installing cryptocurrency mining software onto computers at a workplace, and still other times it comes from operating cryptocurrency mining software onto unsuspecting third party computers.
Cryptocurrency mining browser extensions took advantage of users’ computers by harnessing their unused processor power to mine cryptocurrencies for the extensions’ creators. That would result in higher electricity bills for computer users, while essentially granting the extensions’ creators free cryptocurrencies.
Since in many cases that might have occurred without the computer users’ knowledge, Google decided to ban those extensions. What was happening with browser extensions wasn’t entirely dissimilar from advertising hijacks, in which malware placed in online ads was hijacking users’ computers to mine cryptocurrencies.
Google’s new ban is a boon the cryptocurrency community, as it strikes a definite blow against fraudulent mining activity. While the Wild West atmosphere of cryptocurrencies has provided great opportunities for growth for investors in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it also has allowed some unscrupulous actors to gain entry too.
The more active companies and individuals are in driving those unscrupulous actors out of the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency marketplace, the healthier the cryptocurrency community will be in the long term. Ultimately, it will be self-policing and self-regulation, and not government regulation, that will protect consumers and ensure that the cryptocurrency community remains free of fraud and abuse.