Google Play is Infested with Fake Crypto Mining Apps

 

Google has deleted eight bogus mobile apps from the Play Store that pretend to be bitcoin cloud-mining apps but are actually designed to trick users into paying for pricey subscription services and engaging in other unlawful acts. Although they may have been removed, Trend Micro researchers discovered that when searching Google Play for the keywords "cloud mining," several problematic applications of the same sort remain. 

“Cloud mining introduces both convenience and cybersecurity risks. Because of the simplicity and agility of cloud computing, it is quick and easy to set up a realistic-looking crypto mining service that is really a scam,” said Ioannis Gasparis, a mobile application security researcher at Lookout, in a report released in July. 

These phoney Android apps target those who want to make money online by persuading them to invest in a cloud-mining company. All eight recently removed apps were found to be infected with one of two malwares: FakeMinerPay and FakeMinerAd. 

“These apps were able to fly under the radar because they don’t actually do anything malicious,” said Ioannis Gasparis. “They are simply shells set up to attract users caught up in the cryptocurrency craze and collect money for services that don’t exist. Purchasing goods or services online always requires a certain degree of trust — these scams prove that cryptocurrency is no exception.”

According to Cifer Fang, a researcher at Trend Micro, these malicious apps merely fool victims into watching adverts, make them pay for subscription services with an average monthly charge of $15, and also encourage them to pay for greater mining capabilities without getting anything in return. 

According to Trend Micro's findings, the apps don't actually mine anything; instead, "fake mining activity on the apps' user interface (UI) is carried out via a local mining simulation module that comprises a counter and certain random operations."

“The app called Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System prompts its users to upgrade their crypto-mining capacity by ‘buying’ their favorite mining machines to earn more coins at a faster rate,” Fang noted. 

Two of the phoney crypto mining apps (Bitcoin [BTC] – Pool Mining Cloud Wallet and Bitcoin 2021), according to Trend Micro's analysis, bombarded their users with adverts with the primary purpose of enticing victims to click.