Symantec Finds Cryptojacking Apps on Microsoft Store

In alarming news, Symantec has revealed that they have found eight apps on Microsoft’s app store that mine the cryptocurrency Monero without the user’s knowledge.

In January, Symantec discovered several potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) on the Microsoft Store that surreptitiously use the victim’s CPU power to mine cryptocurrency. Symantec reporting these apps to Microsoft and they subsequently removed them from their store.

The apps — which included those for computer and battery optimisation tutorial, and video viewing and download — came from three developers: DigiDream, 1clean, and Findoo. In total, we discovered eight apps from these developers that shared the same risky behaviour. After further investigation, it is believed that all these apps were likely developed by the same person or group.

Users may get introduced to these apps through the top free apps lists on the Microsoft Store or through keyword search. The samples found run on Windows 10, including Windows 10 S Mode.

As soon as the apps are downloaded and launched, they fetch a coin-mining JavaScript library by triggering Google Tag Manager (GTM) in their domain servers. The mining script then gets activated and begins using the majority of the computer’s CPU cycles to mine Monero for the operators. Although these apps appear to provide privacy policies, there is no mention of coin mining on their descriptions on the app store.

Mitigation

Stay protected from online threats and risks by taking these precautions:

  • Keep your software up to date.
  • Do not download apps from unfamiliar sites.
  • Only install apps from trusted sources.
  • Pay close attention to the permissions requested by apps.
  • Pay close attention to CPU and memory usage of your computer or device.
  • Install a suitable security app, such as Norton or Symantec Endpoint Protection, to protect your device and data.
  • Make frequent backups of important data.

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