Google bans cryptocurrency mining extensions for Chrome

About 90 percent of extensions in the Chrome Web Store "failed to comply with" Google's policies for cryptocurrency, the search giant says.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
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Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency mining extensions.

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Google has a new policy that's mine-numbing for cryptojackers.

Google announced that it's kicking all cryptocurrency mining extensions off its Chrome web store, pointing to how often they'd been abused by scammers.

The Chrome Web Store originally allowed cryptocurrency mining extensions, as long as mining was all the extension was supposed to do and the users knew exactly what they were getting into. Warning consumers is particularly important because mining scripts often take up a lot of a computer's processing power.

"Unfortunately, approximately 90 percent of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store failed to comply with these policies, and have been either rejected or removed from the store," James Wagner, Google's extensions platform product manager said in a blog post on Monday.

For example, in December, Google had to delete the "Archive Poster" extension, after Bleeping Computer reported that the Tumblr extension was actually mining cryptocurrency Monero on over 105,000 devices. Other extensions, like one disguised as a URL shortener, were also deleted over the last six months.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum depend on thousands of computers to "mine" new digital currency as they authenticate and record transactions. The process consumes immense amounts of computing power, though, so fraudsters now are trying to use others' machines so they can reap the rewards without paying the costs.

The scheme is called "cryptojacking," and hijacked miners have been found in a Russian nuclear weapons lab and on government websites.

Google said it's no longer accepting extensions with miners, and will be delisting all the existing ones by late June. Blockchain-related apps will still be allowed, Google said.

Facebook and Twitter recently took action against cryptocurrencies, by banning ads on their platforms. Google stopped allowing cryptocurrency ads in March. 

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