Andy Android Emulator found installing cryptocurrency miner
This is definitely an emulator to avoid, unless you're into that kind of thing.
A perceptive Reddit user has found popular emulator Andy Android installing a cryptojacker along with the free and apparently otherwise functional software. Cryptojacking is when, unknown to you, your computer is being used for cryptocurrency mining.
The miner is installed on a user's computer at the same time as the rest of the software, without a user knowing about it. After installation, it gorges itself on computing power under the innocuous alias of updater.exe.
Cryptojacking malware has been one of the inevitable side effects of the ability to make money through computing power alone, and it has quickly evolved to become a substantial branch of malware in its own right. In December 2017 when crypto prices were peaking, cryptojackers were the world's most in-demand malware. Over time, it has made appearances in all walks of Internet life, from YouTube sidebar ads to Microsoft Word documents.
Crypto miners are typically designed to remain hidden for as long as possible so the user mines as much crypto as possible over time. This means striking a balance between a bug that consumes more power to make more money faster but is more obvious and one that makes less income but can probably remain hidden for longer.
The Andy Android miner is no exception. Based on the video created and narrated by the miner discoverer, the malware tempers itself and only consumes a set portion of computing power rather than guzzling as much as possible.
It's being widely referred to as a bitcoin miner, but almost certainly isn't. It rides along on its victims' graphic cards (GPU), and no home GPU can even begin to compete with the enormous bitcoin mining operations going on today. It's statistically most likely to be Monero. Thanks to its relatively high value, anonymity and GPU mine-ability, Monero is the most popular option for cryptojackers.
By itself, the miner is harmless and doesn't really do any damage beyond consuming computing power. The discoverer says they didn't realise they were mining crypto until they tried playing some more graphically intensive games a while after downloading Andy Android and found the games to be stuttering uncharacteristically.
They say that when they tried raised the issue with the Andy Android developers through their Facebook group, they were quickly and repeatedly barred.
Some groups have tried experimenting with willing crypto-mining, such as letting users choose between crypto mining and viewing ads while on a site, as a way of monetising content in the age of ad blockers. But this cryptojacker not only forces mining on unknowing users, but does so with software that will perpetually hang around until discovered and cleaned away or until the user unknowingly downloads one of the newer and more advanced cryptojackers that kills off its rivals before going to work.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and NANO.
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