Monday, March 12, 2018

Mac App Store App 'Calendar 2' Mines Cryptocurrency

In recent years, and especially now, we have heard more and more about websites and apps using services like CoinHive, which utilize your CPU (knowingly or unknowingly) to contribute to a large cryptocurrency mining operation. With a declining sustainability of ad revenue (especially with the popularity of AdBlock), many have turned to this method. With strength in numbers, these mining operations can bring in a fair amount of revenue. It's tempting for many, but it is heavily frowned upon. Mac App Store app, Calendar 2, has taken advantage of this by offering it as a "payment" option [Source: Ars Technica]. In exchange for your processing power, you'll get all advanced features for free. In addition, you can disable all advanced features or simply pay for them with money. However, the app mines cryptocurrency by default. That's deceptive for multiple reasons, but that aside, how did this make its way onto the Mac App Store? That remains unknown, but we do know that the app has been taken down since. The developer of Calendar 2, Qbix, is working to remove the miner due to several bugs.

"We have decided to REMOVE the miner in the app. The next version will remove the option to get free features via mining. This is for three reasons:
1) The company which provided us the miner library did not disclose its source code, and it would take too long for them to fix the root cause of the CPU issue.
2) The rollout had a perfect storm of bugs which made it seem like our company *wanted* to mine crypto-currency without people's permission, and that goes against our whole ethos and vision for Qbix.
3) My own personal feeling that Proof of Work has a dangerous set of incentives which can lead to electricity waste on a global scale we've never seen before. We don't want to get sucked into this set of incentives, and hopefully our decision to ultimately remove the miner will set some sort of precedent for other apps as well."
Regardless of any stance on their statement, it raises an important topic of apps and websites using our processing power to mine crypto. So many reports state how developers have to retract or update these apps because they are using too much power. If that's the case for one app, what's stopping other apps from fighting for CPU? All while the user is blissfully unaware of any of this. It's becoming an epidemic fast.

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