Microsoft quietly bans crypto mining on its cloud services

Microsoft Azure
(Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has updated its “Acceptable Use Policy” for Azure and Dynamics 365 Services as of December 1, 2022.
  • The new language forbids using the services for crypto mining without Microsoft’s consent.
  • Microsoft follows Google, Amazon, Oracle, and others with similar bans.

While most of us think of massive GPU and computer farms when it comes to the controversial mining of cryptocurrencies, some have attempted to use a cloud-based version. After all, why not use the impressive server farms of major corporations instead of your own?

That’s all coming to an end if you use Microsoft’s cloud services. As The Register noticed, new language in the “Acceptable Use Policy” for Azure and Dynamics 365 Services was updated at the beginning of December. It now states, “Neither Customer, nor those that access an Online Service through Customer, may use an Online Service: to mine cryptocurrency without Microsoft’s prior written approval.”

The document notes that “the Acceptable Use Policy has been updated to explicitly prohibit mining for cryptocurrencies across all Microsoft Online Services unless Microsoft grants written pre-approval.” It does, however, leave a caveat: “We suggest seeking written pre-approval from Microsoft before using Microsoft Online Services for mining cryptocurrencies, regardless of the term of a subscription.”

As to why Microsoft would make an exception, it would only be for “testing and research for security detections.”

Microsoft made no formal announcement of the policy change. However, the company did respond to The Register regarding the decision stating it did so because “crypto currency 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.”

Interestingly, Microsoft is simply following the lead from other cloud providers with similar bans. The Register notes that Google, Amazon’s AWS (free tier), Google, OVH, Digital Ocean, and Oracle also have restrictions in place for crypto mining.

As to why Microsoft is making this change now, it is not clear, but it seems it likely saw some behavior on its servers that raised concerns or noted the potential for future risk.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.