Is Bitcoin Malware Bogging Down Your Nexus 5?

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Android app developers are engaging in a new scheme to mine Bitcoins and other digital currencies on smartphones without the owner’s knowledge or consent. If you’ve recently experienced unusually slow speeds, poor battery life, and hot temperatures on your Google Nexus 5, it could be suffering from Bitcoin malware.

Trend Micro Uncovers Bitcoin Malware on Google Play

The internet and cloud computing security software firm Trend Micro published an article on their website, revealing two highly popular Android apps that were being used to mine digital currencies. Bitcoin mining apps for smartphones and tablet computers isn’t a new concept by any means, but the problem with this scenario is that the two apps in question — Songs and Prized — were performing mining operations in the background, all without the knowledge or consent of the device’s owner.

According to an article published on BGR.com, Songs had an estimated 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 downloads, and Prized has an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 downloads. Google has since removed these apps from Google Play, but there are likely still thousands of devices containing Songs and Prized. If your Nexus 5 contains either one of these apps, delete them immediately.

The two apps revealed in the Trend Micro article reportedly used system resources from Android smartphones and tablets to mine Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin while the devices were being charged. The apps contained a new family of malware known as ANDROIDOS_KAGECOIN.HBT, which was actually taken from a legitimate Bitcoin mining app.

The Problem With Bitcoin-Mining Smartphones

Digital currencies are typically generates through a process known as mining, where a computer performs resource-intensive calculations to crack encrypted puzzles. Once the encryption is successfully cracked, the unit is created and awarded to the miner. But it really doesn’t make any sense to use smartphones for this task considering their low processing power capabilities. Bitcoin malware on Android smartphones can technically mine digital currencies like Bitcoin; however, it’s really too slow and not enough power to generate any sizable amount of currency.

Clever as the attack is, whoever carried it out may not have thought things through. Phones do not have sufficient performance to serve as effective miners. Users will also quickly notice the odd behavior of the miners — slow charging and excessively hot phones will all be seen, making the miner’s presence not particularly stealthy. Yes, they can gain money this way, but at a glacial pace,” said Trend Micro in a recent blog post.

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