Apple recently updated its app store review guidelines, banning all iOS and Mac apps that mine for cryptocurrencies from its App Store. The ban comes after a cryptocurrency miner made its way onto Apple’s App Store in March via the Calendar 2 app developed by Qbix, Bleeping Computer reported.
The rapid rise in cryptocurrencies’ popularity across the globe has garnered greater attention and interest from cybercriminals, who are now increasingly attempting to scoop up digital coins. Cryptocurrency mining involves performing massive amounts of complex mathematical calculations, which in turn requires immense amounts of computing.
As a result, cyber actors harness the power of a device’s CPU to mine for cryptocurrencies, without victims’ knowledge or express consent The mining process causes significantly higher CPU usage in devices such as laptops and smartphones. If prolonged, this could result in the device becoming extremely slow, shorten its lifespan, or, in some cases, even brick the device.
Targeting mining apps
Apple’s ban only applies to apps that have been specifically created by developers to use iOS devices to mine for cryptocurrencies and does not affect other cryptocurrency-related apps that help users manage or trade cryptocurrencies.
“Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself,” Apple said in a statement.
The tech giant added, “Cryptocurrency apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.”
Major drain on batteries
Although the legality of cryptocurrency mining remains murky at best, the sheer amount of energy required to mine these digital coins has been known to drain devices’ power and affect functionality.
So far, miners have targeted Windows users and web servers to mine cryptocurrencies, not focusing much on iOS devices. Given how quickly cyber actors adapt and shift focus, they have also begun targeting iOS devices to mine for cryptocurrencies.
In the past, cryptocurrency mining has resulted in overheating batteries, which has led to devices even being physically damaged. For instance, in March, security researchers at Trend Micro warned that the HiddenMiner malware could potentially cause physical damage to devices.
“HiddenMiner uses the device’s CPU power to mine Monero. There is no switch, controller or optimizer in HiddenMiner’s code, which means it will continuously mine Monero until the device’s resources are exhausted. Given HiddenMiner’s nature, it could cause the affected device to overheat and potentially fail,” Trend Micro researchers said in a blog.
Apple’s ban on miners could help ensure that its devices remain safe from such damages and that users’ experience remains optimal.