Testing your web browser for cryptojacking

Posted on Jan 12, 2019 by Sean Doyle

Cryptojacking or cryptocurrency mining is the covert use of your computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing unit (GPU) to mine for cryptocurrency. With the rise of cryptocurrency, cryptojacking has become very popular and many websites employ the use of scripts to use your computing device to mine for cryptocurrency. As a result of cryptojacking, your computing device can become slow and malfunction.

Take the cryptojacking test

A free cryptojacking test was developed by Opera developers to raise awareness of the issue. The cryptojacking test will check if your browser is affected by cryptojacking and provides you with a solution if you’re not protected. Spoiler alert: The solution is to download Opera since the latest versions have cryptocurrency mining protection built in.

If the test shows that you are not protected you may want to update your browser, install an anti-mining extension, or use a reputable security program to block known scripts and pools.

Check your CPU usage

Another way to check if your browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency is to observe and analyze your CPU usage.

To do this, open your resource monitor such as the Task Manager or Activity Monitor. If you notice a distinct spike in CPU usage when visiting a specific website that doesn’t have a lot of media content (like streaming videos or music) it is an indication that cryptomining scripts are being used. If you still see the spike after closing your browser, it is possible that the mining is being carried out locally and your computer is infected with cryptomining malware. If that’s the case, it’s recommended to scan your computer for malware with a reputable security program so it can be removed right away.

Popular internet browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have tools that show you the usage of individual browser tabs and extensions. If one of your extensions included a cryptominer or a web page you are visiting is running a cryptomining script you will notice a spike in CPU usage or a high energy impact rate.

  • In Chrome, go to More tools > Task Manager.
  • In Firefox, go to More > Task Manager.

Scan your computer for malware

Cryptomining malware is complex enough to infect your computer without your knowledge to mine for cryptocurrency. Cryptomining malware uses a lot of system resources just like cryptomining scripts do and it is possible to locate the malware in your resource monitor the same way you can identify that cryptomining scripts. However, scanning your computer with reputable security software is the best way to detect and remove malware used to mine cryptocurrency on your computing device.

How to prevent cryptojacking

Cryptojacking can cause performance issues with your computer which can make your computer slow, unstable, and overheat. Prolonged overheating can damage your computer and make it unusable.

Here are some ways to prevent cryptojacking:

  • Use anti-mining browser extensions – Use browser extensions like No Coin and Anti Miner that are designed to block miners on the web.
  • Use Antivirus software that blocks mining scripts and pools –  Download and install reputable Antivirus or Anti-malware software like Malwarebytes to block known mining scripts and pools.
  • Disable JavaScript – Disabling JavaScript in your browser will stop cryptojacking while you browse the web but it can also block functions that you need.
  • Use Opera browser with ad-blocking enabled – The latest versions of Opera have NoCoin with cryptocurrency mining protection built in.