Security

Firefox will soon protect you from websites that mine cryptocurrency on your computer

Tracking protection, a standard part of Firefox, is getting several improvements in Firefox 63, due out in October.

Mozilla is planning improved tracking protection for the October 2018 release of Firefox 63. The update turns tracking protection on by default and also adds protection against cryptomining websites.

Enabling tracking protection by default in Firefox 63 is Mozilla's way of bringing it front and center, Bleeping Computer reported, because it's an essential part of internet security that most people don't know about due to its being buried in Firefox's settings.

Tracking protection blocks cross-site tracking cookies from gathering data on users and sharing them with other websites.

"You're often followed by scripts that collect data on where you've been and what you've done," Mozilla noted in a Wednesday blog post. "These scripts can eat up your data, slow down your internet experience and make you see ads for things you may or may not want to admit you looked for when you went down one of those "suggested items" rabbit holes."

Tracking protection will stop that process dead in its tracks, which is good for internet users not only because it makes their experience smoother, but also because it protects them from malicious tracking and other online threats like websites that secretly use your computer's resources to mine cryptocurrency.

This is especially important for professionals and business users—cryptominers, tracking cookies, and other threats blocked by tracking protection can be serious security risks.

Keeping miners out

When Firefox 63 releases in October along with tracking protection improvements it will be simple to use. Mozilla plans to not only enable tracking protection by default, said Bleeping Computer, but also to add several UI elements that make it easier to find tracking protection settings to toggle it on or off without requiring a full dive into the Settings page.

Tracking protection currently blocks things like advertisement cookies, social sharing scripts, and analytics, so even if you take the steps to manually toggle it on you won't be able to block cryptomining websites until the update.

Once Firefox 63 is available it will be able to block in-browser mining scripts as well as browser fingerprinting scripts, which is great news for those concerned about privacy and the damage that cryptomining malware can cause to hardware.

SEE: Identity theft protection policy (Tech Pro Research)

Mozilla discussed its 2018 roadmap for Firefox in March, detailing many features focused on improving life for developers and for making Firefox more secure.

It has been years since Firefox was competing with Microsoft for web browser dominance—a spot that's now comfortably occupied by Google Chrome. Many of the improvements coming to Firefox give it an edge over Chrome as a secure choice for internet browsing, and Firefox Quantum's sheer speed are making it a popular alternative as well.

The addition of built-in cryptomining protection simply adds to what seems to be a new strategy for Firefox: Make it the safe, easy, private choice for using the internet, and the users will follow.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Firefox 63, due out in October 2018, will turn on tracking protection by default and also add protection against browser fingerprinting and in-browser cryptomining scripts.
  • Mozilla is trying to position Firefox as the secure choice for web browsing. The changes to tracking protection could eat into Google Chrome's market dominance, especially for those concerned with online privacy.

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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