To strengthen its shift in stance, Google is making some policy updates for Google Play developers.
The company has updated its Play Store policy with a set of rules created to keep out unsavory and unsafe contents. And that includes crypto-miner Apps. To some people, crypto-mining apps can be awesome, but for Google, they mean trouble.
Google said that these apps are no longer allowed on its app marketplace. Apps that manage crypto-miners however, are still allowed. "We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices," the new policy reads. "We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency."
This rule didn't come out from nowhere.
Previously, Google has banned crypto-mining extensions from the Chrome Web Store back in April 2018, due "malicious software developers who attempt to abuse the platform at the expense of users."
And here, Google is implementing the same rule on Google Play.
Mining for virtual currencies has become profitable, especially in 2017, thanks to the rapid rises in their valuations.
However, mining cryptocurrencies involve a lot of computing power. For this reason, many have been building vast dedicated hardware to "mine" those cryptocurrencies by stacking many computers with powerful GPUs to create as many digital currencies, as quickly as possible.
Mobile devices on the other hand, aren't that sophisticated for the job.
Crypto-mining apps installed may result in overheating due to them requiring intense processing. Mining can also deplete batteries very quickly, with the possibility of permanent component damage.
Google's move to ban crypto-miner apps is expected. Especially since the global stance against cryptocurrency mining has become more strict. What's more, Google's direct competitor, Apple, has already updated its own developer policies in a bid to protect users from being exposed to crypto-mining practices that are often malicious and hidden in applications.
Such moves to openly ban crypto-miners also come after covert versions of those miners were peaking in popularity in the world of cybercrime.
Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cybersecurity company, said in a report that incidents of crypto-jacking (hijacking users' devices for crypto mining) have spiked by 44.5 percent in 2018 if compared to the year before.
Skybox also reported the same, saying that cryptocurrency mining has become more popular than ransomware. The company reported that crypto-mining practice accounts to more than 32 percent of all cyberattacks, while ransomware only makes up 8 percent.
With the addition of banning cryptocurrency mining apps from its Play Store, Google is also banning apps made to appeal children but contain prohibited adult-related themes or contents.
This move follows YouTube in banning misleading children apps, after channels were spreading disturbing and violent videos masquerading as children's shows. While Google Play Store has a similar problem, it's not as bad as YouTube. But still, Google is taking precautions.
And in addition to the rules above, Google is also banning apps that sell explosives, firearms and ammunition.
To even the balance and make Play Store better for users, Google is also taking steps into removing low-quality and low-effort apps.
For example, fake apps that rip off legitimate apps, or those apps that add no value whatsoever, as well as apps with "similar content and user experience" created by the same developer. These apps aren't anymore welcome. Play Store is also removing apps that are created solely to serve ads and those that mislead users by pretending to be something else entirely.