Bitcoin hackers could be using your phone battery to mine new coins
About 500 million people worldwide are being affected as websites and apps are set up to mine for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
The blockchain currency has soared in value in the last 12 months, causing a rush to create more before a potential bubble bursts.
To bypass the expensive price tag of a bitcoin, which is currently at $9,200, some computer experts create their own in a process called ‘mining’.
It is a lengthy coding task, taking up masses of electricity and computer power. But with a finite number of codes possible, miners are rushing to secure their own before it runs out.
With its value rising, miners need ever more power to create new bitcoins
Last December, computer-security firm Kaspersky, intentionally infected an Android phone with a new species of malware.
Two days later, the phone had been so overworked that the phone’s battery bulged and buckled, causing the device to physically warp.
Kaspersky said: “Nowadays, it’s all too easy to end up with malicious apps on your smartphone, even if you’re using the official Google Play app store.
“The situation gets even worse when you go somewhere other than the official store – fake applications, limited security checks, and so on.”
The trojans are capable of carrying out various sinister actions alongside the mining of cryptocurrencies, including spamming contacts with texts and overloading the phone with adverts.
If your phone dies quickly, it might be hackers using the power to mine bitcoin
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According to Kaspersky, the only thing missing was “user espionage”, which means it does not spy or monitor the phones activities.
This malicious mining malware can find its way onto phones through text messages, viral links on Facebook messenger and even code embedded in Google ads.
It may not be immediately noticeable and many will remain unaware that their phone has been infected.
“Mobile devices have not been spared from cryptocurrency mining, as witnessed by a 34 percent increase in the number of mobile apps incorporating cryptocurrency mining code.”
Hackers can use viruses to commandeer your phone
It added: “After many years of deathly silence, the catalyst appears to be the launch of a new browser-based mining service in September  by Coinhive.”
Coinhive offers a service that allows website owners and app developers to use their code to harness the power of visitors’ hardware, without their consent.
This form of mining has been around since 2013 but took off toward the end of 2017 as the value of cryptocurrencies skyrocketed.
Security firm, Check Point, said the tactic worked by users downloading a malicious app, then hijackers silently register receivers which establish a connection with the server.
“The malware opens the URLs using the user agent that imitates a PC browser in a hidden webpage and receives a redirection to another website.
The best way to safeguard against this malware is to use official security software and be suspicious of unusual files and activities on your devices.