Microsoft Store apps found to mine cryptocurrency

Written by:
Amelia Craig
Date Posted:
19 February 2019
Tech News

Could you be a victim of cryptocurrency mining?

Microsoft Store
Symantec has revealed that several apps that are downloadable from the Microsoft Store have been mining for cryptocurrency in the background of users’ devices.

The Microsoft Store comes installed on all Microsoft phones and is marketed as a safe and secure place for users to download their apps. In fact, Windows was so confident in the security of their store that the new version of Windows, Microsoft 10 S, only allows users to download apps from their official store in order to protect them. Well done, Microsoft.

Mining Apps
According to Symantec, the affected apps include those for computer and battery optimization, internet search, web browsers, and video viewing. All of the eight apps were developed by DigiDream, 1clean and Findoo. These corrupt apps were available on the Microsoft Store between April and December 2018, and in that time were download by a significant amount of users, receiving over 1,900 ratings.

How does it work?
When the user launches the app, the mining script is then activated and begins using the majority of the computers CPU cycles to mine for Monero, a type of cryptocurrency. It does this by visiting a web domain in the background and triggering GTM with the key ‘GTM-PRFLJPX’. Whilst GTM is a legitimate tool that allows developers to inject JavaScript into their applications, in this case it has been abused by trickster developers in order to conceal malicious activity.

What Next?
Microsoft hasn’t commented on this story yet, but the apps have been removed from the Microsoft Store. In the meantime, if you had any of these apps installed, check that they are uninstalled and run an antivirus programme as soon as possible.

Did you have any of the apps installed? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @Hyve!

NB: This is a breaking news story, Microsoft may update on this in due course.

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