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Google Removes Covert Bitcoin Mining Apps from Android App Store

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There are increased reports of more Android apps being used to "mine" for bitcoins, without the user's knowledge.

Unlike malicious viruses or malware, the Bitcoin issue simply uses the smartphone's processing power to "mine" bitcoins which are then uploaded to the malware owner's wallets.

The downside to the user is that bitcoin mining is very processor intensive, and it can drain the battery life exceptionally quickly.

Following reports of apps being offered on unofficial Android app stores last month, mostly in China, the first confirmed reports have emerged of affected apps appearing in Google's official app store as well.

The latest malware, dubbed "BadLepricon" by its creators, was instelled inside five separate wallpaper apps that had from 100 to 500 downloads each, according to a report by the Android app security watchers, Lookout.

Lookout notified Google, and the apps have been removed from the Google Play app store.

"These apps did fulfill their advertised purpose in that they provided live wallpaper apps," Lookout confirmed, but also that every five seconds the apps would check the phone battery status.

If the battery was above 50% charged, then the app would then launch a bitmining process.

Smartphones do not have sufficient power to act as Bitcoin mining operations on their own, as that usually requires dedicated computers to make it worthwhile, however the potential would be for a massive distributed operation collectively using tens of thousands of infected smartphones to replicate such a platform.

In this case, with only a few thousand copies of the affected apps in distribution, it is unlikely that the code developers will earn anything from their bitcoin mining operations.

On the web: Lookout

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Tags: bitcoin  google play  google  malware