Home Security Android mobile apps now being hijacked for mining

Android mobile apps now being hijacked for mining

Mobile malware that mines for cryptocurrencies has been found in apps that are available on Google Play, the security firm Trend Micro reports.

While scripts that mine for such currencies have been found to be distributed through tech support scams and inserted in websites, this is the second time that the company has found apps that are being used for this purpose.

Trend Micro questioned the efficacy of using mobile devices as miners, given the limited grunt they had. But the devices were affected as shown by increased device wear and tear, reduced battery life, comparably slower performance.

Researchers Jason Gu, Veo Zhang and Seven Shen said they had found several apps which used dynamic JavaScript loading and native code injection to avoid detection.

One of the apps helped people to say the rosary while another provided discounts of various kinds. Both these apps loaded a script from the Coinhive website and start mining with the attacker's own site key.

Another kind of malicious app was created by taking the legitimate version of an app and adding mining libraries, repackaging them and then distributing them. An example of this app was one named Car Wallpaper HD.

"These threats highlight how even mobile devices can be used for cryptocurrency mining activities, even if, in practice, the effort results in an insignificant amount of profit," the researchers wrote. "Users should take note of any performance degradation on their devices after installing an app."

The apps in question have all been removed from the Play store by Google.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.