Apple is allowing cryptomining software in the App Store

Anthony Caruana 13 March 2018 NEWS

An app in Apple's App Store comes with an option to mine cryptocurrencies in exchange for running ad-free.

Apple has typically held some pretty tight reins over what apps can appear in their App Store, blocking apps that don't work as intended or that offer services the tech company deems to be inappropriate for the audience they want to cater for. But it seems they're allowing cryptomining software to run.

A popular calendar alternative, Calendar 2, which runs on mac OS and OS X on Apple computers, includes an option to run ad-free if users are prepared to allow the app to mine for cryptocurrencies in the background. If that's not your cup of tea, you can pay a one-off fee of US$17.99 or a monthly subscription of US$0.99 for the same option.

Although the offer seems quite harmless, there is a real cost.

Mining for cryptocurrencies is a resource-intensive operation that chews through energy at a high rate. That will add to your power bill and, if you leave your computer on all the time, the $17.99 fee for an ad-free version might seem like pocket change.

While this practice isn't the same as cryptojacking, where users have their CPUs hijacked by mining software, it's a reflection of the challenges media companies and app developers face when trying to monetise their creations.

In the case of Calendar 2, a problem was detected. Two software bugs meant that the mining software continued to run in the background even after the app was terminated. A security researcher has gone through the ins and outs of the miner used in Calendar 2, which generates Monero (XMR), noting that even though Apple vets apps submitted to the App Store, they can deliver unintended payloads.

Picture: Shutterstock

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