Story image

Malicious cryptocurrency miners shift focus to Google Play

31 Oct 2017

Cryptocurrency miners are spreading beyond computer operating systems and on to Android applications through Google Play.

The miners have popped up in applications that use JavaScript loading and native code injection to avoid detection on Google Play, TrendLabs researchers Jason Vu, Veo Zhang and Seven Shen have found.

The two cryptocurrency miners have been dubbed ‘ANDROIDOS_JSMINER and ANDROIDOS_CPUMINER.

So far JSMINER has appeared in two apps: Recitiamo Santo Rosario free, a prayer app, and SafetyNet Wireless app, which apparently provides discounts.

The researchers say it is able to load CoinHive’s JavaScript library code and start mining with their own site key.

They will also cause high CPU usage in the device while they are mining.

CPUMINER was spotted in at least 25 legitimate versions of apps which were hijacked to include mining libraries. The apps are then redeployed across Google Play as new apps.

One such app includes a supposed car wallpaper app called ‘Car Wallpaper HD: Mercedes, Ferrari, bmw and audi’.

Researchers say it uses a modified version of cpuminer library and is also added to legitimate applications.

They suspect the criminal behind the attacks is mining different cryptocurrencies, however they are not doing do well; having netted just over US$170. Total profits, however, are not known.

“These threats highlight how even mobile devices can be used for cryptocurrency mining activities, even if, in practice, the effort results in an insignificant amount of profit. Users should take note of any performance degradation on their devices after installing an app,” the researchers state.

TrendLabs researchers contacted Google, which then removed the apps from Google Play.

Cryptocurrency mining on Android devices is not new: the ANDROIDOS_KAGECOIN malware hit Google Play in 2014. It was also able to mine cryptocurrency.

The CoinHive malware has been popular this year; which was hijacked by cybercriminals to mine cryptocurrency.

It caused significant CPU usage on victims’ machines – as much as 100% CPU, according to Trustwave researchers. 

The CPU spike could account for as much as $14 per month to a power bill if the machine was not turned off at any time.

Because cybercriminals are exploiting servers and visitors to mine cryptocurrencies for their own means, ultimately end users are the losers.

Secureworks Magic Quadrant Leader for Security Services
This is the 11th time Secureworks has been positioned as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed Security Services, Worldwide.
Google puts Huawei on the Android naughty list
Google has apparently suspended Huawei’s licence to use the full Android platform, according to media reports.
Using data science to improve threat prevention
With a large amount of good quality data and strong algorithms, companies can develop highly effective protective measures.
General staff don’t get tech jargon - expert says time to ditch it
There's a serious gap between IT pros and general staff, and this expert says it's on the people in IT to bridge it.
ZombieLoad: Another batch of flaws affect Intel chips
“This flaw can be weaponised in highly targeted attacks that would normally require system-wide privileges or a complete subversion of the operating system."
Forget endpoints—it’s time to secure people instead
Security used to be much simpler: employees would log in to their PC at the beginning of the working day and log off at the end. That PC wasn’t going anywhere, as it was way too heavy to lug around.
DimData: Fear finally setting in amongst vulnerable orgs
New data ranking the ‘cybermaturity’ of organisations reveals the most commonly targeted sectors are also the most prepared to deal with the ever-evolving threat landscape.
IXUP goes "post-quantum" with security tech upgrade
The secure analytics company has also partnered with Deloitte as a reseller, and launched a SaaS offering on Microsoft Azure.