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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Google Play takes down 8 fake cryptocurrency mining apps 

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If you have downloaded any of these apps, you may want to delete them.

Google has taken down eight applications that were promoted as cryptocurrency mining apps but found to be malicious and run by hackers. 

As cryptocurrencies gain popularity around the world, fraudsters took advantage of the trending digital cash system to heist money online. 

The compromised apps include BitFunds – Crypto Cloud Mining, Bitcoin Miner – Cloud Mining, Bitcoin (BTC) – Pool Mining Cloud Wallet, Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining, Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System, Bitcoin 2021, MineBit Pro – Crypto Cloud Mining & btc miner, Ethereum (ETH) – Pool Mining Cloud.

Security firm Trend Micro discovered how the eight fake cryptocurrency mining apps were tricking netizens into “watching ads, paying for subscription services that have an average monthly fee of $15, and paying for increased mining capabilities without getting anything in return,” the company said in its report.

Trend Micro reported its findings to Google, which immediately took down the apps from its Play Store. 

The report highlighted that “despite these apps not being associated with cloud-mining operations or having any cryptocurrency-mining features, some of these apps prompt users to pay for increased cryptocurrency-mining capabilities via the apps’ in-app billing systems that range from US$14.99 to as high as $189.99.”

Although the apps are no longer on Play Store, they may have already been downloaded on smartphones worldwide.

According to the report, “two of these are even paid apps that users need to purchase; Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining costs US$12.99 to download, while Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System costs US$5.99.”

Trend Micro pointed out that upon searching “cloud mining” on Google Play, it found that there are still several “concerning applications” of the same concept. 

“Some of these apps have even been downloaded more than 100,000 times.”

Furthermore, Trend Micro Mobile App Reputation Service (MARS) data found that over 120 fake cryptocurrency mining apps are still available online.

“These apps, which do not have cryptocurrency mining capabilities and deceive users into watching in-app ads, have affected more than 4,500 users globally from July 2020 to July 2021,” according to the report.

Some of these can be found on Play Store’s finance category, however, Trend Micro experts found after going through one of these apps’ terms of use that it was designated as a game “that does not have any cryptocurrency-mining functionality.”

This means it is not required to issue cryptocurrency payments to any users. 

“It also does not guarantee a firm return for any virtual goods and features purchased in the app.”

The report also found that some of these fraudulent apps deceive its users to click on ads “instead of prodding them to pay for increased computing power.”

To avoid falling victim to such fraudulent apps,  Trend Micro advised netizens to “turn to security solutions that can alert users of fraudulent applications.


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