If you noticed that your Android handset isn’t charging as quickly anymore and data consumption has increased, you could either have a faulty device or apps that mine cryptocurrency in the background. That last bit is no joke, as security firm Trend Micro recently discovered.
Identified as Songs (1-5 million installs) and Prized (10,000-50,000 installs), these apps covertly mine either Dogecoin or Litecoin while your phone charges. These digital currencies are later converted into Bitcoin, which the apps’ makers cash in to generate profits. As of this writing, Prized is no longer available for download, though Songs still is available.
If your initial reaction was a big “huh,” we don’t blame you. Normally, cryptocurrency mining involves using your device’s central processor and graphics processor, a process that is both energy- and resource-intensive. After mining, the cryptocurrency payout you receive can be exchanged for “real” money, if you so choose. While it’s certainly possible to mine cryptocurrency on a low-powered device, such as a smartphone or tablet, miners would much rather use much more powerful computers with multiple processors.
However, because these apps were widely available to users, app makers were able harness the power of millions of smartphones to speed up the mining process. “We believe that with thousands of affected devices, cybercriminal accumulated a great deal of Dogecoins,” wrote Trend Micro’s team. Side effects of the covert mining include slow charging speeds, increased data consumption, and a shorter device and battery lifespan due to the constant processing required to mine these cryptocurrencies.
While the team didn’t specify what “great deal” means in this case, it is confident the app makers are not making much money off of the process. “Yes, they can gain money this way, but at a glacial pace,” wrote the team.