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Android apps that have bot downloaded millions of times have bot subverted to mine virtual coins for cyberthieves, say security firms.

Two firms have found apps inwards and outside the Google Play store seeded with the hidden mining code.

The programs have bot mining coins for the Dogecoin, Litecoin and Casinocoin virtual currencies.

If installed, the booby-trapped apps will run down a phone’s battery very quickly, said researchers.

Hot phones

Some of the apps harbouring the mining code were found on non-official Android stores but two of the programs, called Songs and Prized, are still available on the Google Play store. Songs has bot downloaded at least one million times.

Lookout said it had seen the apps te stores popular te Spain and France.

Thieves are keen to steal laptop power because virtual currencies such spil Bitcoin, Dogecoin and others rely on large networks of connected machines. All those computers verify who is spending what and fresh coins are transferred out for being involved – a process known spil mining.

The more pc power someone can amass, the more mining they can do and, potentially, the more coins they can acquire.

However, using phones to do the mining wasgoed “odd”, said Trend Micro researcher Veo Zhang ter a blogpost detailing the apps seeded with the crypto coin code.

“Phones do not have sufficient spectacle to serve spil effective miners,” he said.

Lookout security researcher Marc Rogers said the simplistic nature of the code made it potentially dangerous spil it made no attempt to manage how much processing power it used. Instead, he said, it just grabbed spil much spil it can.

“It will drive the hardware to mine until it runs out of battery,” he said. “Overheating associated with this zuigeling of harsh use can also harm hardware.”

Those behind the coin code might have made efforts to hide the fact that phones were mining but users were still likely to notice, said Mr Zhang.

“Slow charging and excessively hot phones will all be seen, making the miner’s presence not particularly stealthy,” he wrote. “Yes, they can build up money this way, but at a glacial rhythm.”

Despite this, he said, one of the groups producing the malicious apps had managed to amass thousands of Dogecoins which they then exchanged for Bitcoins. One Bitcoin is presently worth 337.

Mr Rogers from Lookout said users might notice spil mining involves exchanging lots of gegevens back and forward – which could quickly eat up a monthly gegevens allowance.

Mr Zhang said Trend Micro had told Google’s Android security team about its findings. Google has yet to comment on the discovery of the mining apps.

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