Google’s periodical policy review on the Google Play Store has resulted in a complete ban on apps that have cryptocurrency mining as their main application. This is one of the several decisions announced by Google last week.
The reason why some observers may be surprised at this decision is that even Facebook, which had a ban running for a long period on cryptocurrency-related advertisements, has lifted the ban. Google has a ban still in place for such advertisements.
No Crypto-Mining Apps, Barring One Exception
The policy guideline released by Google says that any app that has cryptocurrency mining as a feature will not be permitted on the Google Play Store.
The only exceptions apply to apps that manage cryptocurrency mining on a remote device—typically, cloud-based mining.
The earlier explanation for a stance like this is that the Android device which is hosting the app will be damaged when the user tries to use it for mining of cryptocurrencies, since it draws excessive power, putting the main CPU itself under jeopardy.
And Google is not alone in this; Apple has a similar policy of not permitting any activity to do with crypto mining on their respective devices.
Incidentally, this latest move follows an earlier action in the related space where browser extensions involved in cryptocurrency mining were banned from the Google Chrome Web Store.
Some Apps Hide Their Real Intentions
The threat, as envisaged from the perspectives of both Google and Apple is that there are apps within their stores which may not appear to be connected to cryptocurrency mining, but once the user downloads the app on to their device, it could start the mining process on the sly.
This is termed as “crypto jacking” by cybersecurity experts. However, the fact that has caused concern to the two technology giants is a new report from Kaspersky Lab that there has been a notable spurt in crypto jacking cases by close to 45 percent in the last year alone.
In this process, a person’s device could be used by another person for mining of cryptocurrencies.
It may be nearly impossible for either Google or Apple to keep a full watch over such apps. That’s the purpose of these steps to keep all kinds of cryptocurrency mining apps away from the respective app stores.
Riskier Than Ransomware
Cybersecurity researchers at Skybox Security recently reported that crypto mining elements are causing 32 percent more attacks so far in 2018 than the conventional attacks deploying ransomware.
The situation looked entirely the reverse the previous year; ransomware used to account for 32 percent of cyberattacks, with a lower amount attributed to crypto mining attacks.
Kaspersky Lab also reported recently that crypto miners are taking the place of ransomware as the world’s top security threat.
More Policy Decisions on the App Store
Besides the banning of apps that lead to cryptocurrency mining, Google has also added a few more categories of apps to their new guidelines—including an explicit ban on all apps that attempt to sell firearms or explosives of any kind.
But the basic principle applied to all of the new guidelines remains the same: the larger public good.
The current exercise at redefining the Google Play Store policy appears to have been carried out in a detailed manner, covering many broad areas.
Apps that are duplicate in nature or of a kind that looks repetitive in content and intent will also be weeded out and future approvals denied to such apps.
There have been instances of the same developer submitting multiple applications for placement in the app stores although they all are different forms of the same app. This will come to a stop now as well.
Lastly, Google has instituted a ban on apps that are developed on a given template without any original work going into it.
There are such automated tools available in the market and some companies try and take advantage of these and mechanically develop apps and submit them to Google for approval.
Google is now firm that these apps will not be entertained hereafter.
The larger picture from all these elements is that Google is in a cleaning up mode and is looking at presenting the users of Android devices the safest experience they can have.