Google has just updated its Play Store developer policy and included a quote that it does not allow crypto mining apps. This is according to the BBC. The last time a significant update occurred, fake ID apps were targeted regardless of their intent.
The company joins Apple in removing cryptocurrency mining apps from its platform amidst the growing app monetization trend. However, applications designed to manage crypto miners, such as cloud-based computers, are still allowed.
In April, Google took similar steps against Chrome browser crypto mining extensions that mined cryptocurrencies without user consent. As such, the Google Play Store move does not come as a total surprise.
However, the new policy is not clear on whether all apps present before the ban will be affected. Right now, there are still quite a number of crypto mining apps on the platform, although they are explicitly labeled as such.
The Apple Crypto Miner Ban
In June, Apple banned crypto mining apps from use on its devices, with the ban being extended on all its platforms.
Some of the apps that fell victim to the clampdown include Calendar 2, which since March had started mining on user devices in exchange for access to premium features.
According to Calendar 2, Apple banned its app for violating a guideline stipulating that applications should not cause a rapid drain in battery charge. Apps that cause devices to generate excessive heat or overload processes are also not allowed.
That said, mining using mobile phone apps is not very effective because they lack powerful GPUs. And so, this strategy are mostly worthwhile for hackers looking to stealthily hog on thousands, and in some cases millions of device resources via a botnet network.
Bitcoin and Crypto Mining on Your Phone
Mobile phone crypto mining applications essentially work by downloading pending transactions off blockchain, and then proceeding to process the work.
The MinerGate Mobile Miner app, a spinoff of the PC based MinerGate client has been among the most popular mobile crypto miners with at least a million downloads on Play Store.
At the time of writing, the app has seemingly been spared the cut. Another app, Crypto Miner, which has over 100,000 downloads is also still available on Play Store. It is still not clear why these and other apps haven’t been removed.
The Mobile Cryptocurrency Mining Menace
The crypto mining trend has been growing in recent years, especially following the bitcoin price upswing period last year.
And earlier this year, cybersecurity company, Malwarebytes, released a reportpointing to a new cryptojacking technique used by surreptitious hackers, who were able to control millions of devices for mining.
Using browsing redirection, unsuspecting users would be redirected to a site with an embedded malicious script designed to hijack phone processors to mine Monero.
In February, Chinese cybersecurity firm, Netlab360, also discovered that about 7,000 devices connected to the internet, located in China, were connected to a botnet network created to mine the Monero cryptocurrency. Devices affected ranged from TVs to smartphones.