Two new Monero cryptominers found on Google Play

New miner appears in mobile game and browser for Android

Bitcoin cryptocurrency mining

Security researchers have discovered two new Monero cryptominers being hosted on Google Play.

The two new cryptomining apps in Google Play, identified by a team working at IT security firm Avast, are called SP Browser and Mr. MineRusher. The apps are said to have a combined subscriber base in the thousands.

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According to Avast, the mobile mining process begins once a user downloads the application and opens it. But it doesn't require any further user action, such as a click of a button, to execute.

Researchers said that instead, an automatic connection is made with the website apptrackers.org where the CoinHive JavaScript miner for the Monero cryptocurrency is hosted. Once the connection to the domain is made, the mining initiates. However, it does this surreptitiously in the background when the screen is switched off and the device is using data or connected to Wi-Fi. This tactic adds another layer of obscurity to an already imperceptible attack.

"The good news for users of these apps is that the impact is unlikely to raise any security or privacy concerns. And for the attackers, the reward for their efforts is small: mining via mobile devices is notoriously unprofitable. This is because cryptomining campaigns require large-scale computing power in order to generate enough coins for a profitable return on investment. Unlike PCs, mobile devices lack the CPU power for an attacker to make any substantial monetary gain," said researchers at Avast in a blog post.

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Researchers said that in general only apps from official app stores should be downloaded, but as malicious ones can slip through these checks from time to time, it's important to verify them, making sure they are developed by a trusted source and not fake.

"This can be done by visiting the homepage of an established company, as they often promote their mobile apps on their websites, leading you to the correct store link, so you can download the app straight from the official source," said researchers.

IT Pro has contacted Google for a comment on this story.

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