Google will join Apple in removing crypto mining apps from its App Store as part of its updated Google Play policy.
Google bans crypto mining apps
Until recently, Google Play Store has been one of the biggest platforms for downloading cryptocurrency mining apps and has definitely been one of the most trustworthy ones since Apple decided to ban them. Now, Google’s new policy update has eliminated these apps from the Play Store as well.
The Thursday report from Android Police, the industry’s media outlet, unveiled the new decision which came as part of the policy update made for the developers of Google Play. The policy said that App Store will only permit apps that are offering services like remotely managing crypto mining.
The ban is the newest effort from Google, as well as Apple, to restrict activities that relate in any way to the mining of cryptos through the use of their respective platforms. Previously, Google decided to ban browser extensions that were used for mining cryptos, which was done in April of this year. The decision to do this came after the discovery that the majority of the extensions did not comply with Google’s single-purpose policy. Additionally, many of these extensions were also discovered to be malicious.
Then, only a month ago, Apple released a new update for its policy regarding mobile apps. The policy was for iOS app developers, banning all apps created for mining cryptos via smartphones. These decisions were intended to limit criminal activities through the use of such apps.
Crypto-jacking becomes the most popular cybercrime in the world
One of the biggest concerns was crypto-jacking, as reported by the Russian cybersecurity company, Kaspersky Labs. The act of crypto-jacking is when criminals hijack devices belonging to regular users and use them for mining cryptocurrencies. This activity became so popular, that it spiked by an entire 44.5% in the previous year.
Another such report came from Skybox Security, stating that crypto-jacking has become so popular that it even exceeded the number of ransomware attacks. The firm released a mid-year update, in which they said that miners have become a target of a third of all cyber attacks (32%), while only 8% of cyber attacks are connected to ransomware incidents. The curious thing is that these figures were almost exactly reversed at the end of 2017.
The reason for crypto-jacking is the vast amount of the necessary processing power, as well as a high amount of electricity that the process consumes. By using someone else’s resources, cybercriminals are making a profit at their expense. Mining is carried out by solving complex mathematical problems that unlock or lock blockchain-recorded information. Once each block is ‘solved’, the miner is rewarded with a certain amount of cryptocurrency.
So this process can be very rewarding, but sometimes the reward is lower than the cost of mining, which is where crypto-jacking comes in. This is not a legal activity and is not supported, hence Google’s and Apple’s decision to remove themselves from the equation.