Google bans cryptocurrency mining extensions from Chrome Web Store

90% of extensions were found to have broken rules

Google has banned from the Chrome Web Store any extension that features a secret cryptocurrency miner.

In a blog post, the search giant said that over the past few months there has been a rise in malicious extensions that appear to provide useful functionality on the surface, while embedding hidden cryptocurrency mining scripts that run in the background without the user's consent.

"These mining scripts often consume significant CPU resources, and can severely impact system performance and power consumption," said James Wagner, extensions platform product manager at Google.

He said that until now, Google's policy on cryptocurrency mining in extensions was permitted as long as it's the extension's single purpose and the user is adequately informed about the mining behaviour. But Wagner added that around 90% of all extensions with mining scripts developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with these policies and have been either rejected or removed from the store.

As such, Google has been forced to no longer accept extensions that mine cryptocurrency at all. Wagner added that existing extensions that mine cryptocurrency will be delisted from the Chrome Web Store in late June, but extensions with blockchain-related purposes other than mining will continue to be permitted in the Web Store.

Wagner lamented the fact that while the extension platform allowed developers to build plug-ins that helped users, these same capabilities have attracted malicious software developers who attempt to abuse the platform at the expense of users.

"This policy is another step forward in ensuring that Chrome users can enjoy the benefits of extensions without exposing themselves to hidden risks," he added.

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