Talking tech since 2003

What good is a fancy Android smartphone if you don’t have equally schmancy wallpaper? Well, before you scour the Google Play Store for a background that sets your heart a-flutter, think about whether or not you want to run the risk of loading your phone up with malware. That’s malware that secretly mines for Bitcoins, to be precise.

The malware in question is known as BadLepricon, though other similar digital currency miner viruses were found hiding in Android apps last month. BadLepricon, however, seems to be lying in wait inside of a few different wallpaper apps that can be downloaded for free from the Play Store: Beating heart Live Wallpaper, Epic Smoke Live Wallpaper, Urban Pulse Live Wallpaper and Mens Club Live Wallpaper. The discovery was made by mobile security firm Lookout Security, and posted on their blog. Apparently Google has removed those apps from the store, but there’s really no telling how many more might be out there, lying in wait.

So how does this work? The malware activates only under certain conditions, specifically when your phone’s battery level is at 50 percent or higher, when the display is turned off, and when your phone is connected to a data or Wi-Fi network. If all three of those conditions are met, effectively escaping your attention—and thereby escaping detection—it goes to work and starts to suck your battery dry. And since one phone alone can’t make much of a mining dent, these programs work in concert with other phones that hide the malware to mine for the cryptocurrency.

In the end, it’s the same old story regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of Android’s openness. You can download tons more apps than you can on any other mobile platform. And that includes the kinds of apps that may want to do harm to your mobile phone. Just because it’s on the Play Store doesn’t mean it’s safe—Google does little to no checking to make sure a program is on the up and up, at least when compared to Apple’s more stringent procedures to get an app onto its digital store. Make sure you trust the maker of the app before you click download.

And for goodness’s sake, just snap a photo to use as your phone’s wallpaper.

[Source: Lookout Security]

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