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The advent of cryptocurrencies gave birth to different groups – investors, traders, and enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it also created a new avenue for thieves or malicious hackers, or in the crypto parlance – cryptojackers.
According to The Daily Mail, hackers are mining cryptocurrencies with users’ smartphones. These hackers hijack smartphones, embed a cryptocurrency mining bug, and can mine for bitcoin, ethereum, monero, and other currencies.
Smartphone users are advised to cross-check new mobile apps before downloading, especially gaming and crypto-based applications.
Researchers at IT security company ESET have reported the discovery of a “version of the popular game Bug Smasher, installed from Google Play between one and five million times, has been secretly mining the cryptocurrency monero on users’ devices.” It is important to be cautious of apps you download.
Cryptojacking and How Your Smartphone Is Attacked
Mining cryptocurrencies requires computing power. Though cryptojacking started with computer and browser hijacking, the increasing number of smartphone usage around the globe has provided cryptojackers with a new avenue to mine cryptocurrencies. According to a security researcher at security and anti-virus giant Kaspersky Lab, though the “processing power available to criminals is less” on mobiles, there are many smartphones, and when combined, can “offer a greater potential” for cryptojackers.
The symptoms? Once a user’s smartphone is affected, the device starts to misbehave. Get heated very fast, freeze at any time, the battery drains quickly. The heavy use of the phones processing power ultimately leads to complete destruction of the device.
Cryptojacking on the rise
Cyber Security expert Quick Heal Security Lab also reported that hackers have used about 3 million mobile devices to mine cryptocurrencies between January and May 2018.
Security giant McAfee reported that malware used by “cryptojackers” increased from 400,000 in the last quarter of 2016 to 2.9 million by the end of the first quarter of 2017, indicating a 629 percent increase. According to security firm ESET, this trend is on the rise. The firm reported that “more and more mobile applications hiding Trojan horses associated with a cryptocurrency mining programme have appeared on the platforms in the last 12 months.”
How to stay protected
Smartphone users are cautioned to avoid downloading unknown and unverified new applications. Additionally, users are advised to use popular security tools to protect their smartphones and to observe for changes in their smartphone performance, including overheating, freezing, delay in the operations of previously normal applications, delays in booting, and many other issues.