Cryptocurrency-Enabled Brave Web Browser Hits 20 Million Downloads

BTCNN reported on December 13 that Opera had launched a cryptocurrency wallet on its latest browser for Android. On February 7, it was also …
brave browser

Brave Browser, a web application from Brave Software Incorporation has hit 20 million downloads on the AppBrain Android marketplace. The open source internet browser is reportedly speedier than Chrome and rewards its users with the Basic Attention Token (BAT). Therefore, people can earn while they surf their favorite pages on the net and so can publishers of these content.

Brave Browser Boasts of Being a Fast Ad Blocker

Brave Browser reputably known as a fast ad blocker has recorded 20 million downloads on AppBrain. The latter is an increment from the 10 million downloads which the application had garnered in August 2018. In May of the same year, the app was downloaded 5 million times which shows that within a few months, the adoption rate doubles. The company in September 2018 also revealed that they have 4 million monthly active users (MAUs).

Brave’s popularity can be attributed to the number of features the application boast of. Some of these include its ability to block ads on web pages as well as trackers. As a result, the page loads faster, fewer resources are loaded to the CPU, and the user’s activity and location are not tracked.

So I just installed and set up @Brave Browser. Listen here…if you like Chrome, but hate how much CPU it hogs up, get Brave. It’s literally built on Chromium and operates JUST like Chrome, but uses WAY less CPU. Definite heads up for my fellow gamers and streamers.

— Not Rob Riggle | #CrownGang (@RobRegalGxC) March 5, 2019

Users and Publishers Earn BAT Cryptocurrency

On the other hand, users of the app can opt-in to receive the Brave ads which in turn, enables them to earn BAT. Publishers also stand a chance of earning the virtual currency for the content they promote. In this case, visitors can donate BAT to them as the case may be. An instance is the case of Philip DeFranco, a YouTube content creator with over 6 million subscribers. DeFranco in April 2018, signed with Brave to earn using its tokens while also promoting the Brave browser.

Brave had its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in 2014 where $36 million was raised under 30 seconds. BAT, the cryptocurrency in question which is used to reward people was launched on Coinbase exchange in November 2018. Upon its launch, there was a spike in the virtual assets price, and most recently, the asset has seen a 30 percent boost in price.

Other Web Browsers Implement Cryptocurrency Feature

The Brave internet browser may have especially been designed to cater to the cryptocurrency community, but in recent times, the traditional browsers are doing the same. BTCNN reported on December 13 that Opera had launched a cryptocurrency wallet on its latest browser for Android.

On February 7, it was also revealed that Mozilla intends to add a cryptocurrency mining block feature on its browser to prevent the illegal mining of these assets. Other than developers of web browsers, smartphone makers like Samsung, HTC, and Sirin Labs have all designed blockchain-based smartphones.

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Coinhive cryptojacking service to shut down in March 2019

… break digital signatures for most desktop PDF viewers · Cryptocurrency wallet caught sending user passwords to Google’s spellchecker

Image: Coinhive // Composition: ZDNet

Coinhive, an in-browser Monero cryptocurrency miner famous for being abused by malware gangs, announced this week its intention to shut down all operations next month, on March 8, 2019.

The service cited multiple reasons for its decision in a blog post published yesterday.

“The drop in hash rate (over 50%) after the last Monero hard fork hit us hard,” the company said. “So did the ‘crash’ of the crypto currency market with the value of XMR depreciating over 85% within a year.”

“This and the announced hard fork and algorithm update of the Monero network on March 9 has lead us to the conclusion that we need to discontinue Coinhive,” the company said.

Coinhive said all in-browser Monero mining will stop working after March 8, and registered users will have until April 30 to withdraw funds from their accounts.

The service, which launched in mid-September 2017, promoted itself as an alternative to classic banner ads.

It worked on the idea that websites could load a JavaScript file (coinhive.js) on their pages. This JS file would mine Monero inside visitors’ browsers on behalf of the site owners. The more time the users spent on the site, the more money the site owner would make.

But despite some public experimentation on The Pirate Bay, Coinive never caught on with major websites, being fiercly criticized for driving CPU usage inside browsers through the roof.

Instead, Coinhive became the go-to solution for cyber-criminal gangs who proceeded to hack sites all over the internet and leave the Coinhive file configured to mine Monero for their accounts.

This practice became widely known under different names, such as “cryptojacking,” “in-browser mining,” or “drive-by mining” and it became a real problem in late 2017 and the first half of 2018, with Coinhive scripts ending up on government sites, live chat widgets, gaming mods, famous sites, fundraising campaigns, Youtube ads, ad networks, browser extensions, routers, mobile apps, and desktop applications.

This got Coinhive’s domain banned in both antivirus products and ad blocker browser extensions alike.

Coinhive’s success also led to a copycat trend with tens of similar services popping up online. However, for most of its lifetime, the German company remained the dominant force on the legal and illegal in-browser cryptojacking scene.

According to security researcher Troy Mursch, Coinhive had a market share of 62 percent in August 2018, and according to an academic paper, the company was making in an estimated $250,000 per month up until last summer.

Coinhive remains the leader in the #cryptojacking industry with a 62% share of all websites using a JavaScript cryptocurrency miner.

— Bad Packets Report (@bad_packets) August 16, 2018

Coinhive’s decline came as its success –by riding the spike and inherent downfall of Monero’s price. The service was wildly popular in 2017 and early 2018, but as prices dropped in late 2018, so did Coinhive’s usage –on both legitimate sites and in malware operations.

Speaking to ZDNet in early December, Jérôme Segura, malware researcher at Malwarebytes, shared his views on the cryptojacking scene that was showing signs of decline even back then.

“While ‘cryptojacking’ or ‘drive-by mining’ dominated the threat landscape in late 2017 and early 2018, it took a backseat for the rest of the year, with the notable exception of some campaigns powered by a large number of compromised IoT devices (i.e. MikroTik exploits),” Segura told ZDNet in December.

“As it stands, the profits generated from in-browser mining are not what they used to be, due to the decline in the value of cryptocurrencies,” he said.

“Our telemetry shows a sharp decrease in Coinhive related traffic, although one of its competitors such as CoinIMP, have gained traction during the past few months,” Segura said.

Speaking to ZDNet today, the Malwarebytes researcher stood by his December 2018 statement that in-browser cryptojacking, as a malware trend, is almost certain dead.

“There are still a lot of hacked sites with Coinhive code, but I have a feeling these are mostly remnants from past hacks,” the researcher told us. “Most of what I see these days is CoinIMP [a Coinhive competitor] and it’s been active again with Drupal hacks recently. But overall, I think the trend is nearing out.”

Yesterday’s announcement from Coinhive effectively puts an end to the in-browser cryptojacking trend that at one point dominated all of the security community’s discussions in 2017 and 2018.

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Opera for Android 50 Brings Improved Ad Blocker, Fast Scroller, Picture-in-Picture, and More

Recently, Opera added a free, unlimited VPN service in its beta version of the browser on Android and late last year, added a cryptocurrency wallet, …

Opera has rolled out a new update for its browser on Android, which brings the version to 50 and with it, we also get a host of new features. Some of the new additions include a new picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, improvements to its in-built ad-blocker, enhancements to the fast scroll feature and more. The Opera for Android 50 update is available on the Google Play store, so if you have an Android smartphone, you can head over and grab the update.

The first big update to Opera for Android 50 is the ability to disable the ad-blocker for individual websites, which Opera says, can be done with two taps. You can tap the green lock symbol located on the left of the website address bar, which will then show you options to exclude the that website from ad blocking.

“We want website publishers to be able to ask users to turn off their ad blocker for their websites,” said Peter Wallman, SVP browsers at Opera. “This enhancement to our ad blocker will allow users to benefit from having an ad blocker always on while disabling it on specific websites.”

The next big addition to Opera for Android 50 is the new PiP mode, which lets you watch a video from a website while using other apps. It’s enabled by default in the new version of the browser and works when you hit the home button on your Android phone, while watching a video in fullscreen mode. This minimises the browser but keeps the video playing as a pop-up window, over other apps. This is said to work on all websites that support PIP videos.

The new version has also added a fast scroll handle, which lets you scroll down or up to a long webpage even faster. According to the changelog for Opera for Android 50 on the Play Store, other changes include a more accessible site storage and cookie settings, “Open” option added for PDF or Doc files in the download dialog box, Dark CSS theme support, added three new language translations and now uses the Chromium 71 rendering engine.

Recently, Opera added a free, unlimited VPN service in its beta version of the browser on Android and late last year, added a cryptocurrency wallet, dubbed the Crypto Wallet for the Android version.

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Brave’s BAT Jumps Over 12% After Being Added to Coinbase Earn

The Brave browser’s Basic Attention Token (BAT) has recently seen its price jump over 12% against the US dollar, after Coinbase added it to its Earn …

The Brave browser’s Basic Attention Token (BAT) has recently seen its price jump over 12% against the US dollar, after Coinbase added it to its Earn program, which helps users learn about cryptocurrencies by rewarding them with tokens.

Shortly after the US-based cryptocurrency exchange announced the move and invited various users to learn about BAT, a cryptocurrency created to support the privacy-centric browser’s ad model by rewarding publishers based on attention, and earn tokens doing so, the price jumped.

BAT's price performance in the last 24-hour period

According to Coinbase’s announcement, some users were already invited and can earn up to $10 worth of the ERC-20 token by completing the provided educational lessons. Its earning program ends with what appears to be a call-to-action for users to try out the Brave browser, and earn tokens doing so.

As Coinbase explains it, they believe “learning about crypto and earning crypto is a great way to get people to evaluate and use more utility tokens without having to buy them outright.”  Users who weren’t yet invited to earn BAT can visit the Coinbase Earn BAT page to watch the videos for free, or join a waitlist to be notified and earn tokens.

To be notified, they have to have verified their identity, and opted in to marketing communications, the announcement adds.

Earn $10 worth of BAT with a new Coinbase Earn opportunity today. Check out the Earn page to view educational videos about Basic Attention Token and try out the blockchain-friendly Brave browser to begin earning.

— Coinbase (@coinbase) February 6, 2019

While Brave’s ad program that’ll reward users for seeing ads isn’t yet live on its main browser, it is already being tested on its developer version. It doesn’t yet reward users with BAT tokens, but gives them a glimpse of what to expect.

Thanks to its privacy-focused features, built-in adblock, and more the browser has already surpassed 5.5 million monthly active users. Its ads, supported by BAT, are reportedly going to be rolled out beyond its own browser in the future.

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DoubleVerify Acquires Leiki; GroupM UK Verified by ABC to JICWEBS Anti Ad-Fraud & Brand …

In this weekly segment, ExchangeWire sums up key industry updates on ad tech from around the European region – and in this edition: DoubleVerify …

In this weekly segment, ExchangeWire sums up key industry updates on ad tech from around the European region – and in this edition: DoubleVerify Acquires Leiki; GroupM UK Verified by ABC to JICWEBS Anti Ad-Fraud & Brand-Safety Principles; Tappx Partners with Pixalate to Guard Against Connected TV/OTT Ad Fraud; Vivaldi Acquires Gravity Thinking; and GeoEdge First to Bring Real-Time Ad Security & Quality to Mobile In-App Environments

DoubleVerify Acquires Leiki

DoubleVerify, the leading independent provider of marketing measurement software and analytics, announced on Sunday (14 January) that it has acquired Leiki, Ltd., a leading contextual intelligence and content classification platform headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, and with operations across Europe. The transaction was completed as an all-cash, all-stock offer on 27 December, 2018.

The Leiki acquisition further strengthens DV’s core global brand reputation capabilities, ensuring that brands advertising on the internet are matched with appropriate and relevant content. Leiki’s semantic AI software engine provides high-definition analysis of any piece of text (e.g. complex news articles) or contextual video data. DoubleVerify uses content analysis data to protect brand reputation throughout the media transaction (pre- and post-bid) and to enable proactive contextual targeting of content aligned with a brand’s equity or target audience profile.

The acquisition also brings a tenured team with specialised ontological expertise and deep relationships with brands and premium publishers internationally. Moreover, Leiki experts classify content in-language worldwide – helping DV address the brand reputation needs of its global customer base.

Commenting on the acquisition, Wayne Gattinella, DoubleVerify CEO, said: “Leiki’s data-driven technology platform and advanced content classification expertise dovetail perfectly with DV’s global brand reputation offering – a core competency since our company’s inception over a decade ago. We are delighted to welcome the Leiki team – a uniquely talented group, who are experts in language ontology and content analysis.”

Leiki CEO and founder, Dr Petrus Pennanen, added: “The entire Leiki team is thrilled to join forces with DoubleVerify – a rapidly expanding, global organisation with a best-in-class brand reputation solution. We are going to market with even stronger capabilities through close integration of Leiki’s semantic technology and expertise with DV’s industry-wide platform.”

GroupM UK Verified by ABC to JICWEBS Anti Ad-Fraud & Brand-Safety Principles

GroupM UK, the world’s leading media investment group, has achieved two JICWEBS Seals of Compliance, as verified by independent auditor ABC, demonstrating that the company has met industry-agreed standards to actively reduce the risk of both advertising misplacement (linked to the issue of brand safety) and exposure to advertising fraud.

The JICWEBS Principles are industry-approved guidelines against which media buyers, publishers, or intermediaries can be verified. The aim of the Principles, and ABC’s verification programme, is to promote confidence in the industry by demonstrating that companies like GroupM UK are providing targeted protection against some of the key issues affecting the online advertising industry.

JICs (Joint Industry Currencies) ABC and JICWEBS are supplying the online media industry with a trusted and robust currency on which media space can be bought and sold.

Stevan Randjelovic, brand safety manager, GroupM EMEA, comments: “At a time when brand safety and ad fraud remain core digital advertising challenges, we believe the industry should be committing to best industry practices and independent certification, which is the core mission of JICWEBS. We are pleased to receive our DTSG seal once again and obtain the anti-ad fraud accreditation for the first time – both applicable across all GroupM divisions. This not only demonstrates our commitment to media quality and integrity, but that we truly walk the talk.”

Simon Redlich, chief executive, ABC, adds: “Congratulations to GroupM UK for achieving two JICWEBS Seals following verification by ABC. This recognises its compliance with the JICWEBS Principles for both anti-fraud and brand safety. GroupM UK is leading by example in demonstrating its commitment to a safer, more transparent digital ad trading environment.”

For more information on ABC’s Verification Services click here.

Tappx Partners with Pixalate to Guard Against Connected TV/OTT Ad Fraud

Tappx has partnered with Pixalate in order to offer advanced invalid traffic (IVT) detection technology for its over-the-top (OTT) services. The global Tappx solutions, which will be enhanced by Pixalate technology, includes ‘Ad-Replacement’ services for digital TV; ‘Dynamic Ad Insertions’ (DAI), digital TV ad time-slot detection and insertion of programmatic video ads; and ‘Addressable TV’ ads, which deliver targeted and personalised ads based on TV user interests.

Traditionally speaking, OTT was a ‘secure environment’, typically set within the parameters of ‘digital commercial sales’ and championed by larger broadcasters and publishers. However, OTT has evolved over the years. There are a growing number of viral content platforms appearing each day across an ever-expanding app ecosystem. OTT advertising spend continues to grow at a rapid pace – Magna projects a 40% jump in 2018 – but the fragmented ecosystem has opened the door for fraudulent activity.

Jalal Nasir, Pixalate CEO, comments: “Marketers have expressed concerns over inventory quality and ad fraud in OTT; and our industry-first MRC accreditation directly addresses those challenges. OTT advertising is rapidly expanding; and as the industry’s first solution for ad-fraud detection and prevention in OTT, Pixalate is ready to guard the growing investments.”

José Manuel González Pacheco, advanced TV and audio advertising strategist and partnerships director, Tappx, adds: “The importance of trust and transparency, combined with the ability to control anti-fraudulent activities, directly correlates to a ‘maximum priority’ for advertising and content service providers. Pixalate brings outstanding protection to the Tappx portfolio of in-app programmatic solutions, and now we’re pleased to utilise Pixalate MRC-accredited solutions for OTT. Pixalate has helped Tappx implement strategies that reduced IVT by blocking fraudulent apps and increasing app scale.”

Vivaldi Acquires Gravity Thinking

Global strategy firm Vivaldi announced Wednesday (16 January) the acquisition of London-based award-winning digital creative agency Gravity Thinking – whose clients include Hyundai, Pizza Hut, and William Grant & Sons – as part of its drive to deliver tangible impact and proven growth strategies to clients.

The deal adds Gravity’s innovative social and digital marketing capabilities to Vivaldi’s existing business, brand strategy, and data analytics offering, allowing the combined group to deliver strategies based on demonstrable impact, supported by first-rate customer journey analytics and brand funnel optimisation. The two companies are already working together on clients in the enterprise software, tourism, and retail sectors.

Gravity Thinking’s managing partners Stephen Firth and Andrew Roberts will join Vivaldi’s leadership team and continue to be based in London. All of Gravity Thinking’s staff will be retained and will work closely with Vivaldi’s global team across their nine offices, including New York, Chicago, Toronto, Buenos Aires, London, Zurich, and Munich.

Gravity Thinking was advised by leading growth and M&A advisors Waypoint Partners who supported the managing partners throughout the process, leveraging an acute understanding of the M&A landscape to bring the deal to completion.

The announcement caps a year of expansion, client growth, and new thought leadership for Vivaldi. The combined organisation, driven by an agile methodology to launch new ideas, concepts, and brands in the market, will be integral to delivering the company’s flagship work on platform business models.

Tom Ajello, Vivaldi’s global chief creative officer, comments: “Our industry still operates in silos. Yet people and brands have evolved – we are the only independent global player that has the passion and persistence to successfully merge what others have kept separated for too long.”

Erich Joachimsthaler, Vivaldi founder and CEO, adds: “The deliberate integration of strategy expertise, award-winning creativity, and in-market activation is absolutely necessary in the new model of building brands. I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead, bringing together these two companies that share similar views and cultures.”

Gravity Thinking managing partner, Andrew Roberts, said: “We’re thrilled to join the Vivaldi family and are inspired by their pioneering thought leadership on brand-building and growth. We are looking forward to working with them to bring growth strategies to life through in-market activation.”

Founded in 2007 by managing partners, Andrew Roberts and Stephen Firth, Gravity Thinking has gained acclaim with many of the world’s forward-looking brands for its unique storytelling and relentless focus on data, resulting in the delivery of innovative marketing and measurable social and digital activation.

Otto Stevens, partner at Waypoint Partners, concludes: “Vivaldi’s acquisition of Gravity Thinking is smart, mutually beneficial, and has client interests at its core. Vivaldi has taken a significant step towards the development of deeper executional capabilities and strengthened its foothold in the European market; while Gravity has unlocked the potential for rapid growth and gained access to a new calibre of client. We’re proud of our role in facilitating this deal.”

Alongside Waypoint Partners, Gravity Thinking was advised on legal issues by Kemp Little, whilst Vivaldi used Humphreys Law for its legal and tax counsel.

GeoEdge First to Bring Real-Time Ad Security & Quality to Mobile In-App Environments

Despite a decrease in mobile threats in 2018, according to security firm Avast, the company reported a 49% increase in ad-based malware last year; and just last week, researchers at security provider Trend Micro discovered 85 different apps pushing adware to unsuspecting Android users.

According to data from GeoEdge’s real-time blocking, the majority of malicious and sexually offensive ads discovered over the last six months were on iOS and not Android.

To address the growing challenges of malicious and sexually offensive in-app ads, GeoEdge, the premier provider of ad security and verification solutions for the digital advertising ecosystem, released on Wednesday (16 January) its solution for in-app real-time blocking of malicious and inappropriate ads. This SDK is the digital marketplace’s first available innovation for blocking bad ads in real time within the in-app environment.

With eMarketer projecting that two-thirds of programmatic ad budgets will go towards mobile next year (of which 90% will be bought programmatically), and with in-app growing much faster than the mobile web, publishers and app developers need to provide their users with the same protection and security on mobile that is provided on desktop. The digital industry has already seen advances like header bidding and ads.txt expand into mobile environments. However, up until now, security and ad quality in mobile have lagged behind the standards that have become customary on desktop.

GeoEdge brings mobile security and quality up to speed. Using the same proprietary, patent-pending technology that powers GeoEdge’s widely adopted solutions for the broader web, it detects security issues, inappropriate and sexually offensive ad creative, and user experience issues at the pre-impression level delivered by any of the major mediator SDKs. The tool blocks the bad ad before it renders and replaces it with an alternate ad already verified as safe and appropriate. This allows publishers to protect their users without losing the revenue they rely on for the future of their business. GeoEdge technology identifies issues ranging from redirects, drive-by downloads, viruses, and malicious files, to adult content, pop-ups, and device vibrations. GeoEdge is unique among ad security and quality vendors in its ability to identify and block inappropriate ad creative in real time, rather than just identifying the security risks.

Poor-quality ads increase a site’s bounce rate and lead to churn among a publisher’s or app developer’s users. By preserving the integrity of the in-app ad experience, publishers can more easily nurture their audiences, and provide them with quality, relevant content. Trusted and safe in-app environments promote loyalty, increase the lifetime value of the user, and drive greater overall revenue for the publisher and app developer.

GeoEdge presents developers with a mobile SDK that they can integrate directly into the app. It provides, via a web-based console, full reports on all activity the technology observes in the app environment. It also provides a BI view of data that can be visualised at the demand-source level.

This SDK solution is the logical next step in GeoEdge’s long-standing mission to preserve user experience and to allow publishers to combat bad ads proactively.

Amnon Siev, CEO, GeoEdge, comments: “By offering a Mediation SDK integrated with real-time blocking, GeoEdge is taming malicious and offensive ads and content on mobile by replacing the offending ads and content with safe ones, ensuring the revenue stream for app developers and a safe experience for users.”

GeoEdge enables the supply side to focus on publishing. The company handles malicious and unsafe advertising so that publishers, app developers, and supply-side clients can focus on optimising their advertiser campaigns and provide better and more effective relations with their clients in the time saved. GeoEdge enabled clients to find a 90-95% reduction in complaints, through the elimination of offensive and malicious ads, and gain full transparency and visibility of their entire ad inventory beyond the blocked malicious ads, enabling better management of each partner’s brand-safety needs.

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