In recent months, security researchers have discovered techniques that let hackers and unscrupulous websites perform in-browser, drive-by cryptocurrency mining even after the user has closed the window with the offending site. By doing this, they generate money in cryptocurrencies using your computing resources, without your consent. If you have a slow PC or many open apps, this can represent a significant issue. In its newest version, the Opera web browser included a feature that helps you block such techniques with just a click. Here's how it works and how to enable this feature:
What is Opera doing to protect you from websites that use your device for cryptocurrency mining and how effective is it?
Starting with Opera version 50, which was released in January 2018, the Opera browser has a new built-in ad blocker mechanism, which eliminates cryptocurrency mining scripts that overuse your device's computing ability.
This way, your device's processor and video card cannot be used for mining cryptocurrency without your consent. To test whether their solution is effective, we used Opera version 50 on a desktop PC equipped with an Intel Core i5 4460 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM, an ASUS R9 270X DirectCU II TOP video card and a very fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD.
We first loaded one news website that was confirmed to do cryptocurrency mining without informing the user. We noticed that, with just one tab open, Opera used 6.1% of our processor and 0.7 of our video card.
We closed Opera, enabled the new NoCoin mining protection feature and reloaded the same website. This time, the same website used only 3.6% of our processor and 0.3 of our video card. That is half of the system resources that were initially used.
To make the test more conclusive, we disabled the mining protection, restarted Opera and loaded four websites that were confirmed as doing cryptocurrency mining. With four tabs open, all doing some crypto mining, Opera used 24.9% of our system's processor and 5.9% of our video card.
We closed Opera one more time, re-enabled the mining protection feature and loaded the same websites one more time. This time, the browser used only 2.8% of our system's processor and 0% of our video card.
The NoCoin protection feature is based on a blacklist that needs to be regularly updated. While it cannot protect you from all websites that do cryptocurrency mining without your consent, it will protect you from many websites that do this.
When it does protect you, you can see for yourself that it is effective and your system resources are freed up for activities that you want to perform.
How to protect you from cryptocurrency mining, when using the Opera browser
First, make sure that you are using the latest version of Opera from the official website. Then, click the big O button in the top-left corner, which opens the Opera menu. Here, go to Settings. You can also press ALT+P on your keyboard to open Opera's settings.
In your Basic settings, check the box that says: "Block ads and surf the web up to three times faster." Then, you have to check the blocking list that you want to use. To protect yourself from cryptocurrency mining, check the box for NoCoin (Cryptocurrency Mining Protection).
You can now close the settings window and you are protected. Enjoy using browsing the web more safely!
Do you like this feature that was introduced in Opera?
Our team at Digital Citizen uses Opera on a regular basis, and we enjoy this browser a lot. This new feature makes for an even more secure web browsing experience, which complements its existing privacy features. Test it out and share with us your opinion: do you like the latest version of Opera? Do you use it as your primary web browser? Comment below and let's discuss.