In recent months, internet companies have been wary of cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Google, Facebook, and other popular internet companies have all banned crypto-related advertising. Now, Google has also banned cryptocurrency mining apps from the Play store. Apps that manage the hardware used for mining remain acceptable, however.
The developer policy update reads: "We don't allow apps that mine crypto-currency on devices." This comes as no surprise since the company had already banned cryptocurrency mining extensions on Google Chrome.
Moreover, hacking incidents have been known to involve mining extensions on browsers to force the victim’s computer to mine for the hackers. The events in themselves already hinted at the targeting of crypto-mining apps as a next step. The timeline for the banning was not disclosed, however. It took Google 2 months to remove the crypto-mining extensions after the announcement last April – this may give some estimate on how long the company can take to implement its ban.
On the other hand, Apple seems more selective with its bans. The company allows some crypto-related apps on the App Store as long as these are approved by exchanges or if ICOs are officially registered. Moreover, mining apps allowed are only those that mine through the cloud.
This is not to say that Google is simply zeroing in on cryptocurrency related programs. Repetitive apps were also removed from the Play store in around the same time the mining apps were. The move was made to purge the Play Store of apps that were fraudulent or simply failed to comply with the policies. As it turned out, the majority of crypto-related apps were either malicious or simply non-compliant.
“Apps that are created by an automated tool, wizard service, or based on templates and submitted to Google Play by the operator of that service on behalf of other persons are not allowed,” Google explains.
To conclude, Google seems to be taking a proactive stance with handling cryptocurrency related threats. In a report by a Russian cybersecurity company - Kaspersky Lab, it was stated that crypto-jacking incidents have risen by 44.5% since last year. This speaks a lot of what Google is trying to disallow in the Play Store. In fact, malicious cryptocurrency mining is now said to be more popular than ransomware.