Android apps found to be mining Bitcoins

It seems like some people will do anything to mine new Bitcoins. This week, the security firm Lookout announced that a number of malicious Android apps found their way to the Google Play store that secretly use a phone's processor to create new Bitcoins.

Apps like these could hide a Bitcoin mining malware program.

Lookout previously revealed that a malware program called CoinKrypt had been incorporated into Android apps which made phones mine other digital-only currencies like Litecoin, Dogecoin and Casinocoin. Their new report now claims cyber criminals are moving to apps that mine the most popular online currency, Bitcoin, by hiding malware in wallpaper apps.

The malware itself is called BadLepricon and while the apps that contain the software do offer up new wallpaper, they also use a phone's CPU to mine Bitcoins. The malware is especially hard to detect because it actually tries to conserve a phone's resources so that its Bitcoin activities don't burn it out.

Lookout found the malware lurking inside wallapaper Android apps that ranged from animated artwork to photos of shirtless men; the company alerted Google which quickly deleted five of those apps from its Google Play store. Lookout recommends Android phone owners keep the "Unknown sources" setting unchecked so their device won't have to deal with "dropped or drive-by-download app installs"

​Source: Lookout | Image via Lookout

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Why is this a problem ?

You put up with the app store anti-competitive monopoly (WP and IOS included)
You put up with your phone contacting reams of advert and analytics servers selling your metadata to the highest bidder.

Why don't you put up with this aswell ?

Reading throuh the latest comments. Still think it is really hilarious, near comical, that the people here complaining about Android saying it is broken, crap, and a mess when they continue to use Windows which had the same problems for decades. Doesnt matter if it is via the Windows store or an app/program that gets installed. All that is is a different delivery method to infect a system but malware is malware.

Anyway, I love my Windows and Android devices so continue bashing one and not the other. All it is doing is showing how hypocritcal people can be.

Edited by techbeck, Apr 26 2014, 4:12am :

I believe that lot of people here are earning money with the windows platform, and not much with android. There are developers, and people that are more or less linked with Microsoft.

I don't think most user would be annoyed by this kind of malware. It use some of the cpu resources, but as long users don't notice it, they remain "happy".
A malware that steal password, or take completely control of your phone, would be more annoying.

techbeck said,
...

Precisely why the article calls out that this particular variant is difficult to detect due to its being conscious of the battery.

Mining bitcoins on a phone? Wouldn't it take like millions of phones working for months to even get a single bitcoin? Meanwhile the value of bitcoin is plummeting. This seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth.

Funny. I download apps more than most people and have yet to run into any malware. No one I know has run in to any either.

Doesn't stop people from making assumptions about Android, does it? Ironic that so many making these potshots are also Windows users...

Considering that most everybody is a Windows user, that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense aside from trying to deflect the issue, namely malware being found (again) in the Play store. I don't know anyone who has ran into malware on an Android personally either, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist as I don't know everybody on the planet. I don't know anyone who's ever been to Australia either..

Sure, it exists. But is not as big a problem than lots like to think and play it off as. I run in to malware on Windows every single day with users. If malware was so prevalent on Android, then I am sure I would see that often as well.

techbeck said,
Funny. I download apps more than most people and have yet to run into any malware. No one I know has run in to any either.
If in poker you do not spot the fish at the table in the first half hour... You are it..

Max Norris said,
Considering that most everybody is a Windows user, that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense aside from trying to deflect the issue, namely malware being found (again) in the Play store. I don't know anyone who has ran into malware on an Android personally either, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist as I don't know everybody on the planet. I don't know anyone who's ever been to Australia either..

Android has malware, so people bash and don't use it. Yet they use Windows. You don't see the irony in that? Seriously?

That isn't a deflection, that is an observation and is rather hilarious. A deflection would be me trying to change the subject, which I didn't do. I never stated Android didn't have malware. I will state for the record that I have never seen it on my own devices, much like when I use Windows. I guess the user is the weakest link in both cases.

techbeck said,
Sure, it exists. But is not as big a problem than lots like to think and play it off as. I run in to malware on Windows every single day with users. If malware was so prevalent on Android, then I am sure I would see that often as well.

Estimates are that 92% of all Android devices in Asia are infected. You need to get out more.

Major_Plonquer said,

Estimates are that 92% of all Android devices in Asia are infected. You need to get out more.


You mean this?
http://forums.appleinsider.com...malicious-apps-increase-614

Where it says that 92% of malware targets the Android platform? Targets does not mean infected. And lots of Google products, including Google services, are banned in China, at least they were at one time, where Android is huge. So lots are getting their apps from other methods.

But maybe you are right, I do need to get out more.

Major_Plonquer said,

Estimates are that 92% of all Android devices in Asia are infected. You need to get out more.

Target != infected, as techbeck says.

It might be interesting to have free apps paid for and supported by Bitcoin services that run on wifi when idle or off peak hours. It could be interesting. I don't think I would mind if premium subscription services like Netflix, Pandora, Xbox Music, or Spotify used this in lieu of a monthly payment.

Drewidian said,
It might be interesting to have free apps paid for and supported by Bitcoin services that run on wifi when idle or off peak hours. It could be interesting. I don't think I would mind if premium subscription services like Netflix, Pandora, Xbox Music, or Spotify used this in lieu of a monthly payment.
I can guarantee you they couldn't make it worth it to the user. Mining bitcoins on mobile devices is almost a joke, it drains the battery way too fast and doesn't generate much

Dot Matrix said,
So, never.

A lot of security relies on the user. If you are a stupid user and install random apps from random places, you will get infected. Just like Windows. Security/secured apps generally do not protect against stupid users.

techbeck said,

A lot of security relies on the user. If you are a stupid user and install random apps from random places, you will get infected. Just like Windows. Security/secured apps generally do not protect against stupid users.

"Random places"... So you mean the Google Play store?

Dot Matrix said,
"Random places"... So you mean the Google Play store?

You know as well as anyone else, the Google Play store is not a random place. You are better than that.

You made a comment about security, I replied saying a user's stupidity is a major factor in security.

techbeck said,

You know as well as anyone else, the Google Play store is not a random place. You are better than that.

You made a comment about security, I replied saying a user's stupidity is a major factor in security.

However, user stupidity is only a tiny part of the equation when you have a highly insecure OS and insecure App screening and installation policies.

The user problem can be fixed, but is pointless until the OS is first secured.

Mobius Enigma said,
However, user stupidity is only a tiny part of the equation when you have a highly insecure OS and insecure App screening and installation policies.

I like being able to report a problem, security or bug, to the dev and have a fix posted within minutes. Their approval process has its perks. Just because it is different from Apple/MS doesnt mean it is a problem. Windows has flourished for decades with the same process with its desktop apps and no one was complaining about that. But since it is Android and Google is evil, there is a problem.


The user problem can be fixed, but is pointless until the OS is first secured.

There will always be stupid users. Help one, and several will take their place. You cannot get around this. The most secure system can be easily compromised by a stupid user.

techbeck said,

You know as well as anyone else, the Google Play store is not a random place. You are better than that.

You made a comment about security, I replied saying a user's stupidity is a major factor in security.

So, the user is stupid for trusting apps downloaded from Play? Because that's where some of these apps were found. You're blaming the user for that?

Dot Matrix said,

So, the user is stupid for trusting apps downloaded from Play? Because that's where some of these apps were found. You're blamin the user for that?

I said users were stupid for downloading from random places. Never said Play was perfect. But it is funny Windows users bashing Android for the same problems Windows has. Different platform...doesnt matter. Same issue.

techbeck said,

I said users were stupid for downloading from random places. Never said Play was perfect. But it is funny Windows users bashing Android for the same problems Windows has. Different platform...doesnt matter. Same issue.

I don't recall there being malware in the Windows Store...

Dot Matrix said,

I don't recall there being malware in the Windows Store...

Miss where I said different platform didnt matter? Malware much worse on a Windows system than Android and its been a huge problem with Windows for decades. People like to bash Android for malware and other things when what they use, Windows, is filled with it. Doesnt matter if it is via the store, web, or a program that was installed.

If people are so concerned about malware, go Apple or Linux. This argument is past getting old. Anyone using Windows and only complaining about malware on Android is being hypocritical.

techbeck said,

Miss where I said different platform didnt matter? Malware much worse on a Windows system than Android and its been a huge problem with Windows for decades. People like to bash Android for malware and other things when what they use, Windows, is filled with it. Doesnt matter if it is via the store, web, or a program that was installed.

If people are so concerned about malware, go Apple or Linux. This argument is past getting old. Anyone using Windows and only complaining about malware on Android is being hypocritical.

Isn't Android Linux?

techbeck said,

A lot of security relies on the user. If you are a stupid user and install random apps from random places, you will get infected. Just like Windows. Security/secured apps generally do not protect against stupid users.

There are some pretty stupid iOS users but I don't see them running around with malware on their phones.

Enron said,
There are some pretty stupid iOS users but I don't see them running around with malware on their phones.

Most malware comes from other sources than the Play store and from side loading. As far as I know, Apple doesnt allow any app installs or side loading from other than the App store. Or at least it is harder to do than other platforms.

techbeck said,

Most malware comes from other sources than the Play store and from side loading. As far as I know, Apple doesnt allow any app installs or side loading from other than the App store. Or at least it is harder to do than other platforms.

Oh ok, I was under the impression that the bitcoin miner apps were coming from the Play Store. Thank you for the clarification.

Enron said,
Oh ok, I was under the impression that the bitcoin miner apps were coming from the Play Store. Thank you for the clarification.

Theses apps are coming from the Play store. I am not disputing that. Said that most malware comes from other sources like download apps from other places than the play store which Android allows.

Android is the worse system in security, that's a fact! its even comparable to the first years of windows XP....
Now a days windows 8 is the most secure and advanced windows release, I even use defender and works like a charm!
Windows Phone 7 & 8 are free of virus and malware, that's another fact! the apps are encrypted, same thing for the OS that's why no problem has occurred with apps in WP.

erikpienk said,

Windows Phone 7 & 8 are free of virus and malware, that's another fact! the apps are encrypted, same thing for the OS that's why no problem has occurred with apps in WP.

WP store is pretty good on the malware record but I hope they get better on spotting fake apps that pop up on the store from time to time. A few weeks ago there were several fake Google apps taken down that should have been caught during the approval process.

techbeck said,

I like being able to report a problem, security or bug, to the dev and have a fix posted within minutes. Their approval process has its perks. Just because it is different from Apple/MS doesnt mean it is a problem. Windows has flourished for decades with the same process with its desktop apps and no one was complaining about that. But since it is Android and Google is evil, there is a problem.

There will always be stupid users. Help one, and several will take their place. You cannot get around this. The most secure system can be easily compromised by a stupid user.

It isn't because Android/Google are evil. It is because in the year 2014 or even 2009 we knew how to design better and more secure OS technologies. It is sad that a highly popular OS like Android in the year 2014 has less functionality and security than was found in Windows 20 years ago.

Android is a bad model in many ways, and instead of fixing it properly, Google keeps wrapping it in duck tape.

As for your comparison to Windows, in the year 2013/2014, Windows is more secure than Android, and ironically has more functionality and is far more exposed in theory.

How about this. Get Google to fix Android's model, and then I will stand right beside you and cheer it on as the best thing since sliced bread. Until then, it sucks. PERIOD.

Astra.Xtreme said,
As soon as Android gets secure.

Yes, because Bitcoins are only mined by malware infected Android devices. /s

Mobius Enigma said,

Android is a bad model in many ways, and instead of fixing it properly, Google keeps wrapping it in duck tape.

DUCT tape

paulheu said,
No

Android IS a linux distro without the GNU/x.org stuff. As a matter of fact the mainline linux kernel already includes support for Android SoCs and base device drivers.

techbeck said,

Most malware comes from other sources than the Play store and from side loading. As far as I know, Apple doesnt allow any app installs or side loading from other than the App store. Or at least it is harder to do than other platforms.

'Most'

This simply isn't true. There is far too many casual users that have barely installed an App from the Play store running around with malware.

You could have malware on your device and NEVER know it due to how easily 'verfied' Apps can be hijacked and how easily malware can hide on Android.

My tech team's first involvement with diagnosing malware on Android came from a Google 'Mail App' update that had the malware code injected from a botted Linux router on the Verizon network itself. These users did nothing other than allow their Apps to updated.

Google has tried to clean up the App verification for installation and updates, but this type of malware hijacking can still occur on the latest build of Android, and yet this problem was reported by our security team to Google back in 2010.

So even if the 'Play' store is clean (which it isn't), all it takes is a botted router looking for known updates and attaching itself.

There are tons of various types of security failures and entry points on Android that simply DO NOT EXIST on iOS, WP, Windows, OS X, etc.

Google has a mess and they are not interested or capable of fully pulling Android apart to fix them.

techbeck said,

A lot of security relies on the user. If you are a stupid user and install random apps from random places, you will get infected. Just like Windows. Security/secured apps generally do not protect against stupid users.

Why do so many people make excuses for Google's crappy approach to writing/stealing software? Why don't Google just fix their OS? You seldom hear of anything like this on iPhone and absolutely never on Windows Phone. This is because these companies put the effort in to protect their customers. Google just wants your money and customers, their privacy and their security be damned.

Major_Plonquer said,

Why don't Google just fix their OS?

Why doesnt MS fix Windows where malware has been a problem for decades?


You seldom hear of anything like this on iPhone and absolutely never on Windows Phone. This is because these companies put the effort in to protect their customers. Google just wants your money and customers, their privacy and their security be damned.

There is a lot of talk about whether or not the walled garden approach is the best method as well. And you are right, Google just wants your money and dont are about security. Screw all the reports and work they are doing now to encrypt user data. Just like MS and Apple are doing.

techbeck said,

Why doesnt MS fix Windows where malware has been a problem for decades?


But, they have. They have the Windows Store, plus Trustworthy Computing are just many of the steps they've taken to correct the s**tshow that was Windows XP era malware.

Dot Matrix said,

But, they have. They have the Windows Store, plus Trustworthy Computing are just many of the steps they've taken to correct the s**tshow that was Windows XP era malware.

No, still broken as long as you can install desktop apps.

techbeck said,

No, still broken as long as you can install desktop apps.

You can't install desktop apps today without being alerted. Try to install an unsigned application, and you have to bypass red flags, and multiple alerts.

techbeck said,

No, still broken as long as you can install desktop apps.

Even this is not accurate. With Windows 7/8 even desktop Apps run in a semi-sandbox and are virtualized. That is why they can't touch system files even if they have trustedinstaller rights.

You need to research virtualization, realtime code monitoring, and the compatibility code execution model in Windows 7/8. These security changes started with Vista as well and is DIRECTLY why Vista broke a lot of applications and drivers.

Seriously do a little research on how desktop Apps run differently on the desktop than they did in WinXP. Find out why the ProgramData folder and user virtualized folders exist, and on and on and on.

(And this isn't even taking into account WPF/NET and frameworks that have even more sandboxing and can't run code unfettered.)

Oh, and Android has NOTHING like this, so stop pretending that they are even close to being the same.

Android is a BAD JVM model that doesn't even properly use its Linux kernel for the few mechanisms that exist in Linux for stability and security. (And Linux even when used properly has a long ways to go to get even close to the security of NT.)


testman said,
DUCT tape

Ok, I will try again without implying anyone is supercilious.

Go look up the term.

Duck tape was given its name because it was designed to be waterproof and uses a duck fabric weave. It was NOT invented to repair 'ducts'.

Dot Matrix said,

You can't install desktop apps today without being alerted. Try to install an unsigned application, and you have to bypass red flags, and multiple alerts.

And yet malware runs rampant on Windows.

adrynalyne said,

And yet malware runs rampant on Windows.

That's not true. Malware infection rates are down. Decreasing with every new Windows release. Infection rates are nowhere near the "plague" levels they were on XP.

adrynalyne said,
If you think that is not true, you are truly out of touch with the tech support scene.

There's a tech support scene? Is there an annual party you guys go to?