Apple Bans Cryptocurrency Mining In App Store

Apple recently updated its developer policies to ban apps that mine cryptocurrencies like Monero on user devices.

|
Jun 11 2018, 7:15pm

Image: Shutterstock

Hackers are getting creative when it comes to getting websites and apps to hijack unsuspecting users’ computers to generate digital tokens for profit. After a Mac app called “Calendar 2” (AKA Calendar 2: The Scheduling) started mining the cryptocurrency Monero in the background on user’s devices, for example, Apple pulled the app from the App Store and it later re-launched without a mining feature.

Now, Apple has updated its guidelines for app developers to specifically ban on-device cryptocurrency mining in apps. Under the section relating to excessive resource consumption, Apple’s policies now include language that bans “unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.” Under the section relating to cryptocurrencies generally, Apple’s policies now say that “apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining).”

Bleeping Computer reported that the change was made last week and archives on the WayBack Machine show that the policy page was updated between Monday and Tuesday. Apple spokespeople were not immediately available to comment.

Read More: Hackers Hijacked an Internet Provider to Mine Cryptocurrency with Laptops In Starbucks

It’s unclear how many apps on the App Store at present contain a mining feature—I found three, although the user reviews indicated that they may not work as advertised. Last year, 9to5Mac favorably reviewed an app for jailbroken iPhones (the code is available on GitHub) that claims to mine Monero and other cryptocurrencies. This apparent lack of interest may be due to the fact that market leaders Bitcoin and to a lesser extent Ethereum require powerful and expensive specialized hardware to mine profitably. The CPUs found in iPhones and the generally weak GPUs that ship with most Macs, on the other hand, can really only feasibly mine coins like Monero and other lesser-known offerings.

Notably, Apple isn’t saying that apps can’t act as an interface for a cryptocurrency mining scheme—only that the mining can’t be done on the device itself. And since Apple products really aren’t the best choice for this activity anyway, that’s probably just as well.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.