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Microsoft bans cryptocurrency mining on Azure without pre-approval

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Microsoft Corp. has banned customers from using Azure services for cryptocurrency mining unless pre-approval is granted.

The change in the Universal License Terms for Online policy came into effect on Dec. 1 but was unnoticed at the time until it was highlighted in an Azure Solution Area post. The post , widely reported today, states that crypto mining is explicitly prohibited across all Microsoft Online Services without pre-approval.

The Acceptable Use Policy adds mining cryptocurrency to a list of prohibited actions that include breaking laws, spamming and distributing malware, an action that could lead to the death or injury of any person and any action that involves gaining unauthorized access to a service or network.

“Violation of the Acceptable Use Policy in this section may result in the suspension of the Online Service,” the AUP reads. “If Microsoft suspends the Online Service, Microsoft will suspend only to the extent reasonably necessary.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft told The Register that the change had been made as “cryptocurrency mining can cause disruption or even impairment to Online Services and its users and can often be linked to cyber fraud and abuse attacks such as unauthorized access to and use of customer resources.”

“We made this change to further protect our customers and mitigate the risk of disrupting or impairing services in the Microsoft Cloud,” the spokesperson explained, before adding that permission to mine crypto “may be considered for Testing and Research for security detections.”

Microsoft is not alone in banning crypto mining. Google LLC’s Cloud, Oracle Corp. and DigitalOcean LLC, among others, also ban the practice without approval.

Crypto mining is resource-intensive, but cloud services such as Azure also charge based on resource use, so despite the official explanation of “disrupting or impairing services,” it’s not immediately clear why Microsoft has decided to ban the practice now.

The Register speculated, however, that Microsoft may be concerned that miners would not pay their cloud bills amid the ongoing crypto winter. Another consideration is that the crypto sector has been hit by scandal recently and Microsoft may want nothing to do with it.

Photo: Microsoft

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