A lot of people are interested in mining various cryptocurrencies. Most current mobile devices have, in theory, sufficient horsepower to do exactly that. Not all applications claiming to mine crypto should be trusted, especially in the Android department.
The Malicious Crypto Mining Apps
Over the past few months, malicious cryptocurrency mining has become a multi-million dollar business. Criminals target both computer and mobile users alike in this regard. Especially this latter category is subject to many different types of attacks. Not only are there miners disguised as apps, some actual mining apps simply don’t even mine cryptocurrency to begin with.
A growing number of fake Android apps has been discovered in this regard. These applications are allowed in the Google Play Store because they do not mask any nefarious activity. Rather than mining crypto, they simply display advertisements. One trend most offerings have in common is how they all claim to mine the ‘unmineable” currencies on the market.
More specifically, the applications claim to generate XRP, Cardano, and Tether, among others. None of these assets have a component which allows them to be mined in a manner similar to Bitcoin or Ethereum. Nor are these apps linked to faucets distributing these assets in exchange for completing tasks. As such, users can “generate’ a balance but never withdraw their coins.
Android Users Remain a Target
While this new “attack” is less harmful, it still poses significant risks. No one knows if the ads being displayed are completely safe. Criminals have hijacked ads in the past to let them download malicious software in the background. It is possible such a concept is coming to mobile devices in the future if these ‘harmful” apps prove to be successful.
For now, Google will need to devise a way to prevent these apps from being approved. Fake apps have invaded mobile app stores in the past as well. ESET researchers confirm a similar trend was visible in late 2017. During that period’s cryptocurrency boom, the demand for mining apps was even bigger than it is today. For fake app creators, the current circumstances can still be quite profitable to explore.
This new development highlights an interesting problem. A lot of Android phone owners want to use their device to mine cryptocurrencies. Even under perfect circumstances, that is nigh impossible to do with any cryptocurrency. When the app advertises unmineable currencies, crypto enthusiasts will need to start doing their homework properly.
Have you inadvertently downloaded one of these apps? What should Google Play be doing (if anything) to protect its users from malicious apps? Let us know in the comments below.
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