Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and the like have expanded and grown over the years and are now having an interesting impact on multiple markets around the world. The crypto-craze is now spilling over onto Android as it has come to light that multiple applications in the Play Store are currently using cryptomining techniques to eat up your CPU cycles to generate revenue for the developer. These applications so far have been downloaded as many 15 million times and can cause the performance and battery life of your device to tank.
Ars Technica recently reported that this was discovered in two applications which at that time had been downloaded 50,000 times. Now, there are at least four applications using it (some without telling the user) which have been downloaded as many as 15 million times. Some have since curtailed the practice while others have convinced people to allow it to continue so they can earn in-game coins while the developer earns real money in return.
Cryptomining started out fairly innocent and was very similar to other projects like Folding @ Home: people around the world were using the processing power of their computers to accomplish something collectively. With cryptomining, it enabled computers to generate a hash that meets a certain criteria. By itself, this is rather innocent but a craze recently swept through and had people buying as many video cards as possible to maximize their mining potential. This caused the price of those particular video cards to skyrocket way over retail price.
Things are dying down in this regard but then Coinhive came along and released a cryptocurrency miner for node.js which was then made into a WordPress plugin. Now sites everywhere are using visitors’ CPU cycles to mine for them. With Android apps also now adopting this tactic, users will have to be extra cautious about what they install or update on their phones.