Google has taken a drastic step against illicit cryptocurrency mining activities by banning all such apps on its Play Store. The prohibition follows a similar move made by Apple on the iTunes App Store. Earlier in the year, Google also removed all cryptocurrency mining scripts from the Chrome Web Store.
Google Says “No” to Cryptocurrency Mining Apps
In an update to its policy, Google said:
“We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency.”
Based on this prohibition, Google is no longer allowing on-device mining on smartphones running the Android OS. However, cloud mining isn’t part of the ban. Commenting on the ban, the company noted that it was in line with industry standard practices.
This reference is no doubt tied to the recent decision by Apple to ban virtual currency mining apps as well. Apple’s announcement came in June, prohibiting mining on both iOS and Mac devices. Like Google, Apple also doesn’t have any issues with cloud-based mining, as the ban only covers device-based virtual currency mining operations. This latest ban follows the decision by Google to outlaw cryptocurrency mining extensions on the Chrome Web Store.
Solving the Cryptojacking Problem
The Google ban might help to reduce the spate of cryptojacking attacks that have become commonplace in recent months. In fact, the decision to prohibit web extensions was born out of the menace of Coinhive-based scripts used in cryptojacking attacks.
Cryptojacking refers to a situation in which a person’s computer or smartphone is hijacked by a third-party to mine cryptos. Such attacks materially slow down the performance of the affected device and often lead to overheating. Recent reports suggest that cryptojacking has become more of a problem than cryptocurrency malware attacks, given the apparent ease of the former. Monero is by far the most popular cryptocurrency mined by cryptojackers.
It remains to be seen whether the ban will materially diminish the occurrence of cryptojacking attacks. Mobile phones, even high-end ones, aren’t best-suited for cryptocurrency mining; the process involves a great deal of computing power and requires powerful processors.
However, the ban might affect the practice of charitable mining, where individuals knowingly seed their unused computing power for cryptocurrency mining by a third-party—usually a charity organization. This type of mining helps to raise funds for charity organizations to help them send relief efforts to various places around the globe.
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