Blog News How to prevent crypto mining abuse on SaaS
Published on May 17, 2021
4 min read

How to prevent crypto mining abuse on SaaS

GitLab now requires new users to provide a valid credit or debit card in order to use free pipeline minutes on SaaS.

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Update: As of 2022-01-13, GitLab no longer requires users created after 2021-05-17 to provide a valid credit or debit card in order to run CI/CD jobs hosted at GitLab, if those CI/CD jobs are run on namespaces that have purchased CI/CD minutes that have not been used.

Update: As of 2021-07-17, GitLab has implemented CI minute quotas for public projects on new namespaces. Existing public projects and namespaces are not impacted.

Update: As of 2021-05-24, GitLab will require trial users created on or after 2021-05-17 to provide a valid credit or debit card number in order to use CI jobs hosted at GitLab. Prospective customers that are unable or unwilling to provide a card can reach out to sales for assistance

Recently, there has been a massive uptick in abuse of free pipeline minutes available on and on other CI/CD providers to mine cryptocurrencies. In addition to the cost increases, the abuse creates intermittent performance issues for users and requires our teams to work 24/7 to maintain optimal services for our customers and users. To discourage and reduce abuse, starting May 17, 2021, GitLab will require new free users to provide a valid credit or debit card number in order to use shared runners on A user will be able to run pipelines without providing a credit or debit card if they use their own runner and disable shared runners. Although imperfect, we believe this solution will reduce the abuse.

We plan to rollout this change gradually and increase the scope if needed as follows:

  • Start with adding the new requirement for new free users created on or after May 17, 2021.
  • If we continue to see abuse through existing free accounts, we plan to extend the requirement to additional users.

This change does not currently impact any of the following users:

  • GitLab self-managed customers and users (free or otherwise)
  • Paid or program users (e.g., education, open source) on
  • Users created before May 17, 2021

When you provide the card, it will not be charged but instead will be verified with a one-dollar authorization transaction. No charge will be made and no money will transfer.

A credit or debit card is one (of many) controls we have put in place to reduce abuse of our platform. We will never fully solve platform abuse, but the more barriers we put up, the more difficult and expensive it becomes to engage in abuse.

The GitLab team members have already activated and shipped many improvements. These were helpful in deterring abuse, although are not sufficient. A sampling of the fixes we have delivered to mitigate pipeline abuse include:

  1. Fail creation of jobs when pipeline minutes quota is exceeded.
  2. Fail pipelines after user exceeds pipeline minutes quota.
  3. Adding restrictions to the creation of namespaces via the API.
  4. Enabling the termination of pipelines when blocking a user.
  5. Ensuring pipelines do not run when pipelines are owned by a blocked user.
  6. Closing gaps in jobs running by user accounts deleted by users.
  7. Utilizing and enhancing the External Pipeline Validation Service specifically around authentication, payload, and access restriction.
  8. Ensuring scheduled pipelines don't run by blocked users.
  9. Include public projects in pipeline minutes quota for free users.

As of July 17, 2021 public projects in namespaces created on July 17th or later will be included in CI pipeline minute usage quotas. Once a free user exceeds the 50,000 minute quota on public projects, a failed pipeline will occur and to resume running the user will need to purchase additional minutes.

We expect to make enhancements to harden our pipeline system against abuse. We believe using pipeline minute quotas as the foundation for free minute usage will be the best mechanism for failing jobs and pipelines to stop abuse. Including this effort, our other pipeline abuse improvements are below:

  1. Expand application limits for preventing abuse of webhooks.

A user impacted by this change has the following options:

  • Provide a credit or debit card and use the 400 free minutes with shared runners.
  • A user can also run pipelines without providing a credit or debit card if they use their own runner and disable shared runners for their project.
  • Decline to provide the card and continue to use many of the GitLab capabilities for free. In this case, any feature within GitLab that relies on our pipelines won't work, such as: A pipeline (CI/CD generally), scheduled pipelines including on-demand DAST scans, defining your own pipelines, utilizing Auto DevOps.
  • Switch to GitLab self-managed

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