Makers of the Opera browser are fighting back against the recent trend of hijacking people's browsers with cryptocurrency mining scripts. The Scandinavian browser maker became the first to implement built-in protections against such scripts in the desktop version of Opera, and now the company has turned its attention to its mobile browsers, with built-in protections for Opera Mini and Opera for Android.
Cryptocurrency mining is obviously very big right now, and somewhat recently, mining scripts that hijack web browsers have started to appear. Known as cryptojacking, it's estimated that more 3 billion websites are running these scripts, affecting more than 1 billion people around the globe. In some cases, websites are upfront about this, as it is an alternative way to generate revenue as opposed to ads. But in many cases, these scripts run without the user's consent.
"When you browse the web, there are no visual clues that your device is exposed to mining," says Jan Standal, VP Product Marketing at Opera "A single webpage you visit can take up to 4.5 hours of your battery time, if you keep the tab open. This often turns out to be just the battery time you needed to use a ride-hailing app or check the map to get home."
The new anti-crytpocurrency mining feature is turned on by default when enabling the ad blocker in Opera Mini and Opera for Android, which you can find in Settings. Just bear in mind that sites like this one rely on advertising revenue to stay afloat, so if you use an ad blocker, we encourage you to whitelist sites you wish to support (and obviously HotHardware specifically).
When enabled, Opera Mini and Opera for Android automatically detect and thwart mining scripts from running. However, Opera suggests that its new feature doesn't completely eliminate the problem in every case. The company tested it on several Samsung Galaxy S8 and HTC One phones, noting that some scripts can cause a device's CPU usage to climb all the way to 100 percent.
"After testing Opera Mini and after activating the ad blocker on Opera for Android, we found that some phones were able to recover 100 percent of their CPU usage," Opera said.
Key phrase there is "some phones." Still, it's better than nothing, especially since these types of scripts are likely to become even more prominent.