With crypto miners making up a large portion of total cyberattacks, the rate of cryptocurrency hacking is taking rise. In a policy update released July 26, 2018, Google banned crypto mining applications from its Play Store.
Google Bans Crypto Mining on All Fronts
Google is taking action to prevent cryptojacking by officially banning cryptocurrency mining apps from the Play Store.
Under the “Cryptocurrencies” section of the Google Play policy update, it reads:
“We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency.”
The new policy explicitly bans crypto mining apps, such as MinerGate, Crypto Miner, and NeoNeonMiner. However, mining-related applications are still permitted on the Google Play Store, as long as they do not directly process mining transactions or link to mining pools.
Cryptojacking is a method used by hackers to embed cryptocurrency mining scripts onto a user’s device without their consent, consuming battery power and degrading system performance. Earlier this year, Google banned cryptocurrency mining extensions from the Chrome Store to prevent similar attacks.
In the Chromium blog released April 2, Extensions Platform Product Manager James Wagner stated:
“Until now, Chrome Web Store policy has permitted cryptocurrency mining in extensions as long as it is the extension’s single purpose, and the user is adequately informed about the mining behavior. Unfortunately, approximately 90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with these policies, and have been either rejected or removed from the store.”
Chrome extensions performing cryptocurrency mining operations were officially delisted from the Chrome Web Store in late June.
Cryptojacking Overtakes Ransomware
In cadence with the burgeoning blockchain industry, a new set of cybersecurity infiltration methods have emerged. Ransomware is being steadily replaced by cryptojacking.
Kaspersky Labs, a cybersecurity firm, reported in June 2018 that incidents of cryptojacking had increased 44.5% from the past year, while the total number of users encountering ransomware fell by nearly 30% in the same period.
“We have found that ransomware is rapidly vanishing, and that cryptocurrency mining is starting to take its place.”
Cover Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash