How Apple is stopping crypto-mining malware

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Apple recently tightened its guidelines for apps on the App Store. After experiencing quite a few apps that utilized the users’ devices to mine for cryptocurrency, Apple updated its official guidelines to include a section on cryptocurrency mining. Opinions are divided on whether or not this is a reasonable move. Some say that the revised guidelines are too harsh on app developers who make it clear that their revenue will come from cryptocurrency mining. Others say it is a wise move that will help combat phishing and malware, which are huge risks in the digital world.

New guidelines mention mining

Apple’s new guidelines are very thorough, and include references to ICOs, cryptocurrency mining, digital wallets, cryptocurrency exchange services, and any rewards based on digital currencies. Two of the clauses dealing specifically with these issues look like this:

2.4.2 Design your app to use power efficiently. Apps should not rapidly drain battery, generate excessive heat, or put unnecessary strain on device resources. Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.

3.1.5 (b) (ii) Mining: Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining).

Why should mining apps be banned?

One of the main arguments for this kind of striction is that cryptocurrency mining is not profitable when you are using your smartphone. There is a good reason why professional cryptocurrency miners invest a lot of money in building mining rigs, which are essentially really powerful computers. It takes a lot of processing power to mine, and even the newest iPhone will not be able to mine enough for users to make a profit.

Using a smartphone or tablet for mining will, on the other hand, quickly wear down the device by making it work harder than it is designed to do. This will significantly shorten its lifespan, which means that users will need to replace it more often. The only way to make a profit from using devices to mine is to use other people’s devices. This way, you do not have to worry about buying a new smartphone to sustain your mining activities.

Scammers are everywhere

Scammers have caught on to this, and that is why mining malware is such a big problem in the cryptocurrency space. The mining malware is not restricted to smart devices like phones and tablets, however. Scammers have managed to infect several websites of prominent institutions, such as governments and tech companies. Everyone visiting these sites will then unwittingly be mining cryptocurrency for the scammers, using whatever device they visit the website with. Coinhive is a great example of this kind of scam.

While Apple has undoubtedly received some criticism for its restrictive guidelines, it is ultimately good news for the average user. Only by preventing scammers from putting their apps on the App Store can Apple help its users avoid being taken advantage of. Whether official government regulations will be rolled out to prevent malware like Coinhive from infecting websites in the future remains to be seen.

I’m a freelance writer and full-time curious person. My main interests are philosophy, politics, art, culture, science, and how they’re all interlinked. When I’m not writing, I’m fronting a band, producing records, and making videos. I’m also currently working on launching a YouTube channel that will focus on culture and politics. I think blockchain technology is fascinating because of the huge potential it has to revolutionise not only the financial sector, but society as a whole.