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Miners on Google Play: secret focus for tech nerds

A true fact is that when a computer shows signs of slowing down, many are ready to blame viruses. But in regard to smartphones, slowness, overheating, or short battery life are usually put down to age. Then people say, it’s time to buy a new one. In fact, there is a chance that the problem may lie elsewhere and it is secret mining.

To be precise, computing power actually does matter by the time it comes to mining. Mobile devices cannot expect to struggle with desktop computers equipped with the latest graphics cards, but in the eyes of cybercriminals, the sheer number of devices makes up for their lack of power. For those accustomed to feeding off other people’s processing power, the millions of devices out there present an opportunity that becomes too juicy to ignore.

Basically, it is alarmingly simple to infect a smartphone or tablet with a secret or hidden miner. There’s no need for the device owner to knowingly install a miner or download an app from a suspicious source.


Usual miners like handy tools or games can’t perform as smooth as described above and they particularly focus ads and stealthily mine for cryptocurrency whilst Google Play and other official stores keep out such fakes or, if they do manage to sneak in, quickly find and remove them. Therefore, malicious apps of this sort are distributed mainly through forums and nonofficial stores. But the problem for cybercriminals is that very few people download anything from such resources. They found a way around that particular problem: If an app actually does what is promised in its description, and the malware is neatly disguised, it may slip through. That’s already happened: an attempt to create a smartphone-based botnet bypassed the safeguards on Google Play and a number of other app stores.

The most popular apps we found of this type were soccer-related: a family of apps with names with PlacarTV (placar means score in Portuguese), one of which had been downloaded more than million of times. It contained the Coinhive miner, which mined Monero coins while users streamed games. It’s a clever scam, and not that easy to spot: Your mind is on the match, and watching videos heats up the phone and drains the battery anyway, just like the miner does, so you’ll have no reason to be suspicious.


 If you find your smartphone isn’t behaving smoothly, don’t ignore it. If it heats up quickly and loses power for no causes, think it to be infected. You can find out if an app has suddenly started eating too much battery with a special app found available in different sources.

 When looking for new apps, take the developers of those apps into account. Software from reputable developers is far less likely to contain infections.

 Install your favorite security app for Android on your device that will help detect all miners even including ones which don’t overheat or discharge the device. Remember, even a miner planned to back off periodically will finally wear out your phone and crude one could toast it.

Moreover, Google is altered for some apps indeed and some other apps remain built in. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that some apps with secret miners won’t sneak in the future. Hence, being safe from them is totally up to you.

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