Millions of Android users are at risk of having their smartphones hijacked, thanks to a piece of malware created by cryptocurrency miners.
Security software company Malwarebytes detected the malware, which redirects users to a website that hijacks their phone’s processor to mine Monero, a cryptocurrency.
How the malware was detected
The malware itself was first discovered when researchers at Malwarebytes were testing a malvertising chain on Windows and Chrome last month that would redirect users to tech support scams, but when they tested the same chain on Android, they were “redirected via a series of hops to that crypto mining page.”
Users on the infected smartphones were asked to solve a CAPTCHA to prove that they are humans and not robots and were simultaneously told, “your phone or tablet will be mining Monero at full speed, maxing out the device’s processor”.
“While Android users may be redirected from regular browsing, we believe that infected apps containing ad modules are loading similar chains leading to this cryptomining page. This is unfortunately common in the Android ecosystem, especially with so-called “free” apps,” said the study.
Affected smartphones run in millions
The researchers have discovered a total of five domains that are utilising the same captcha code and Coinhive site keys for the campaign. As per their researchers, all the five sites combined have a total of 8,00,000 visits per day.
How to spot the problem
If your smartphone operates extra slow or battery gets exhausted quickly or overheats in no time, cryptocurrency miners could be using your device. Hackers attack smartphones either through malware-infected software or redirection to fake websites.
How to Protect your smartphones from possible attacks
The android users are advised to use web filters and security software to fend off these hijacks.
There is nothing much one can do during such attacks other than using the old method of sweeping the affected device with an anti-virus program.
Monero has seen a 20-fold surge in its price over last one year. The crytocurrency is currently valued at $275 per coin with a total market cap of $4.3 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.com.