Millions of Android devices affected by crypto-mining malware, report

Android Devices Put to Crypto Mining Work via Malware Campaign

A new malware on Android is allowing users to use their devices to drive-by cryptocurrency mining campaign, according to a report. "Before being redirected, however, the users were "notified" that there is |suspicious surfing behavior" and that in order to avoid or stop it, they need to solve a Captcha request.

According to Malwarebytes, the campaign could have started in November past year but was first observed in January.

Malicious apps and sites with malvertising are redirecting millions of users to websites set up for the purposes of mining the Monero cryptocurrency. Until a user enters the code, the smartphone or tablet continues mining Monero, damaging the device's processor.

Mining a bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency is not as easy as investing in it. It's an effective campaign in part because many mobile users do not bother installing security applications that might prevent this from happening, and in many cases these devices do not have any sort of web filtering configured, either.

Once they enter the code, users are simply redirected to the Google home page.

Researchers say that while some of the forced redirection attacks may occur during regular browsing, it's likely infected apps also play a role, with ad modules within them directing users towards the cryptomining pages with various Coinhive site keys. "This is unfortunately common in the Android ecosystem, especially with so-called "free" apps". The researchers also suggest that this malicious cryptocurrency mining informs that visitors that they are being redirected to the websites which are used to mine cryptocurrency which is then used to pay for server traffic.

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A quick analysis of two of the five sites known so far to display the code-mining CAPTCHAs indicates the campaign is snaring tens of millions of devices.

"It is hard to determine how much Monero currency this operation is now yielding without knowing how many other domains (and therefore total traffic) are out there".

The average time spent on the sites was around four minutes, so when combined with the number of visits, it's estimated that a few thousand dollars of Monero were generate on a monthly basis; not a stellar number but still a decent earner when it's someone else doing the work.

There has been a rapid increase in cryptojacking attacks in the last few months as most cryptocurrencies, including monero, experience a price increase.

"We strongly advise users to run the same security tools they have on their PC on their mobile devices", the team warns, "because unwanted cryptomining is not only a nuisance but can also cause permanent damage". "Malware-based miners, as well as their web-based counterparts, are booming and offering online criminals new revenue sources".

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