A recent open source report suggested that hundreds of malicious Android apps containing a hidden Coinhive cryptocurrency miner were available for download on the third-party app store, androidapk.world.
Coinhive uses website visitors’ CPU resources to mine the cryptocurrency Monero, providing website owners with a legitimate alternative to advertising for monetising their websites. In October 2017, Coinhive acknowledged they had underestimated the extent of service misuse and launched a new version, AuthoredMine, with an opt-in screen which asked users for permission to borrow their computing power. Nevertheless, the original version of the service is still reportedly in circulation.
Cryptocurrencies rely on ‘miners’ to carry out a large number of calculations to verify transactions. In exchange for contributing computing power, miners are rewarded with cryptocurrency. A miner running in the background can significantly reduce the performance and battery life of a computer or device, and cause it to overheat.