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The latest trojan to hit the block isn't exactly subtle -- it sends your GPU on a roaring hunt for bitcoins.  (Source: Flickr)

Bitcoins could soon contend with spam generation as a botnet profitization scheme of choice.  (Source: Symantec)
Creative virus could make up to $97,000 USD a month if it can infect 100,000 machines, researchers say

File this piece of trojan as an entrant for the title of the world's least subtle malware.  Security researchers at Symantec Corp. (SYMC) have discovered a trojan, which they've dubbed "Trojan.badminer" [database entry], that exhibits a highly unusual attack behavior.

The trojan targets users’ GPUs and CPUs, using them in a botnet scheme.  But rather than simply sending spam, like your average botnet, the attacker uses the infected machines as brute-force tools to mine for Bitcoins.  

Bitcoins, a crypto-currency that's growing in popularity are currently in the process of being "seeded" -- a way of establish an initial amount of circulation.  Miners can set their hardware to work trying to solve difficult cryptographic problems.  Occasionally, if their hardware is powerful enough, they will obtain proof of work for a problem, which leads to a reward of 50 new Bitcoins, according to the current scheme embraced by Bitcoins international proponents.  At today's market value, that's a reward of almost $544 USD.

Symantec researcher Poul Jensen describes how the new Trojan abuses the mining process, writing, "With the advent of Trojan.Badminer and common usage of fast graphics cards, it may well begin to make economic sense to rent botnets in order to carry out distributed Bitcoin mining and run the process on an industrial scale."

Peter Coogan, another Symantec researcher, turned heads in June when he suggested that cyber-criminals could use a Bitcoin botnet of 100,000 machines to make $97,000 USD a month.  At that rate, Bitcoin mining becomes in close contention with other botnet profiteering schemes like spamming.

Just because you don't have a top-of-the-line gaming GPU doesn't mean your home computer is safe from "badminer".  While a GPU can crunch hashes 750 times faster than a CPU, or more, the trojan will put CPUs to work on the task as well.

The malware is the latest setback to Bitcoin, which has recently experienced massive swings in market value and a major security breach at its biggest currency exchange -- Mt. Gox.

As for the new virus, it seems that the threat on the GPU side may be a bit overstated.  Bitcoin clients heavily tax GPUs, meaning that they will be very noisy when the client is running.  So the next time your GPU is inexplicably screaming like a wailing banshee, you might want to do a malware scan -- you may be infected with a Bitcoin trojan.

(Of course CPU infections would likely be more subtle.)

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RE: Please
By Smilin on 8/17/2011 6:02:41 PM , Rating: 1
That's genius. Never thought of that.

Now why the heck would anyone bother? It's like a baseball card: only valuable to other collectors.

RE: Please
By Etsp on 8/17/2011 6:53:14 PM , Rating: 1
only valuable to other collectors
That's the basis for pretty much all currencies today. The Dollar bill for example. It's worthless. It can't do anything. It doesn't represent anything. (The U.S. Dollar used to be backed by gold, but that is NOT the case anymore.)

However it has value to other people who collect dollars(As in: make money). One of the goals of bitcoin is to interest a large enough number of "collectors" who place value in a bitcoin. Once you've built up that community enough, it becomes a viable currency.

Once they establish that it is considered valuable, it can be traded for other things of equal value. Like food, or DVDs. Like U.S. Dollars can.

That's the theory anyway. As a disclaimer, I don't invest in bitcoin, and have no interest in placing value on it. It is an interesting economic experiment though.

RE: Please
By moneytalks on 8/18/2011 12:36:19 AM , Rating: 2
OK, I would not reply in most places but people who look for bitcoin may understand or find this interesting. Most people will not understand this. Spain in the 15-17th century did not "get it" so don't feel bad.

Am I condescending enough for you yet?

> used to be backed by gold.

This may make the currency harder to debase. This comment will please some ... but .....

There is a fallacy at work here. Gold has very little intrinsic value. Wheat does have intrinsic value. Wheat is an older currency than gold becuase we recognize its worth.

People say "backed by gold" but gold is just money, like dollars or bitcoin. It is only worth what collectors will pay for it. It's worth is based on a collective trust or illusion that someone will give you something else will real value for it. Like wheat.

You can call me a nut or you can study history and economics and figure it out for yourself. I studied neither but it seems simple to me.

Dunno, most people don't get it.

RE: Please
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 8/18/2011 1:40:03 AM , Rating: 2
Gold does have intrinsic value. Most attractive women would love to have lots and lots of gold. Gold plates, gold jewelry, gold anything. If it wasn't for women, diamonds would be fifty cents a pound.

Gold has stability over fiat paper currency because governments can't inflate it that quickly without making it obvious that that is what they're doing. When you hold paper money for five pounds of gold, but the next day it will only buy you 2.5 pounds of gold, then the politicians are not going to be around much longer. Unless there was a large necessary war going on the likes of World War II.

Gold has to also be mined in order to increase supply. Bitcoins operate under the same principle. Personally I'd rather have my resources in a digital currency backed by Gold (ie e-Gold).

RE: Please
By cjohnson2136 on 8/18/2011 8:58:08 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is any currency has no intrinsic value. It is only valuable if people want it. If no one wanted gold it would be worthless. You could make goat's heart a currency if people really wanted it. The type of currency you use doesn't mean a whole lot the only thing that is important is if other people want it.

RE: Please
By 4745454b on 8/18/2011 9:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
The only way people will figure this out is if/when the world collapses. When that happens having a lot of gold won't matter at all.

Anyone remember that TV "Jericho"? Having gold or millions of dollars in the bank didn't mean Jack. Having gasoline, fertilizer, seeds, wells, etc is what mattered. Gold might mean something now. But if life takes a drastic turn for the worse it won't be worth anything.

RE: Please
By The Raven on 8/18/2011 4:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
The only way people will figure this out is if/when the world collapses. When that happens having a lot of gold won't matter at all.
I think the point that people are making here is that first goes the dollar, then goes BTC, and then goes gold. In that order, considering that the theory of BTC is successfully implemented and accepted throughout society.
Anyone remember that TV "Jericho"? Having gold or millions of dollars in the bank didn't mean Jack. Having gasoline, fertilizer, seeds, wells, etc is what mattered. Gold might mean something now. But if life takes a drastic turn for the worse it won't be worth anything.
Actually in that show having anything is what mattered. Also, had the series progressed further, eventually gold would've been a good thing to have because people would've found out how to use it to rebuild society as it was. It is still something that you have to dig out of the Earth. If I understand how BTC works they actually would've had a viable currency to buy gas, food, etc. with from our Chinese invaders lol. Of course, when the town is rationing things that goes out the window, but assuming that there is plenty of food available it would be a good idea to hold onto the BTC until you find someone that accepts it in China ;-)

RE: Please
By moneytalks on 8/18/2011 2:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
Someone has already answered this and you can look on the other bitcoin thread here but there is a lot of confusion about the meaning of the word intrinsic. English is hard.

Gold does have intrinsic value, mostly in industrial applications. I said it has relatively little intrinsic value.

Women do not love gold for its intrinsic value and you essentially said that in the reference to diamonds. Women love gold and diamonds because they are percieved to have worth. This worth is not instrinsic. Women do not like gold or diamonds becuase they are shiny or sparkle. Those are instrinsic qualities.

Women like gold becuase they are hoping to convert it to something with instrinsic value like wheat. Women are not scavenging gold for its industrial use in printed circuit boards.

RE: Please
By The Raven on 8/18/2011 4:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
I said it has relatively little intrinsic value.
Relative to what? We're comparing it to paper and BTC, no?
If I offered you a piece of paper, a BTC or a gold bar, which would you take?

If you gave me that choice, I'd take the gold bar smack you on the head and take your Newegg gift card or whatever valuables you had on you ;-P

Jokes aside, intrinsically speaking in today's phyical market paper (easy to make) is worthless and BTC (actually useless) are worthless.

And what is $0x1000? $0. So though gold's value (relatively (to paper/trees) rare and difficult to mine) is based on demand and I understand your point but the relative value of gold is high compared to paper or BTC regardless of almost any realistic factors.

And why the condescension? Honestly. I mean, you yourself said that a lot of people don't understand this stuff.

RE: Please
By moneytalks on 8/19/2011 3:59:27 AM , Rating: 2
You are right. Some intrinsic value is much more than no intrinsic value. Gold has relatively little instrinsic value compared to its perceived value.

The condescension is for lazy people. I apologize to the inquisitive.

It's hard to teach simple concepts to people who don't want to learn. I am an optimist. I think most people are smart enough to understand simple things but but the comments here lead me to believe that the writers are lazy.

Any english speaking high school student should be able to understand the word intrinsic. Most people on this thread do not know what it means and are too lazy to look it up.

Newegg cards are no different than money. Neither have intrinsic value. Talking about the value of paper only has metaphorical value. Most money is not even paper. You can't wipe your bum with money. Money is a concept.

Wheat and gold are real. Both have intrinsic value. Gold like diamonds has relatively little intrinsic value compared to what people think its worth.

People value gold per ounce more than wheat because of its monetary value. This is a perceived value and not an intrinsic value.

I am not commenting on the perceived value of BTC, gold or US currency. All have no intrinsic value.

The misconception that most people have is that they think that gold has some real value compared to money. It does but this value is small. Gold has industrial uses.

If people are really interested in this I will explain it without the tone. But this is a simple matter of understanding one word, intrinsic.

RE: Please
By The Raven on 8/19/2011 1:11:25 PM , Rating: 2
Women do not like gold or diamonds becuase they are shiny or sparkle. Those are instrinsic qualities. Women like gold becuase they are hoping to convert it to something with instrinsic value like wheat.

You are unmarried I take it ;-)
Newegg cards are no different than money.
Sorry, in my question I meant actual paper (like an 8.5x11) and not a fiat currency. The assumption was that that both USD and the giftcard were equally valueable and I didn't mean to imply that they were both worthless in the scenario. I wasn't clear on that and it was the lead up to a weak joke lol.

I think you might have the definition of intrinsic wrong the way you are railing on about it.
BTC, gold or US currency. All have no intrinsic value.

Let's put it this way:
How much is a $100 Confederate note worth today? $0+collectable value, right? (It is just a little worn piece of paper, essentially worthless.)
How about a solid gold coin worth $10 during the Civil war?
It would be the value of the gold by today's standard+collectable value.

Cancel out the collectable value and you get intrinsic value: value of gold-$0=intrinsic value
Sorry, this isn't a way to calculate what the intrinsic value is but simply an attempt to show what it means.

You make it sound like "since food is needed to survive there will always be a market for it"=intrinsic value. That is incorrect. The fact is that gold has certain properties that make it valuble. Paper notes do not. That is what intrinsic value is.

It is not the fact that gold or diamonds are in fashion that gives them their intrinsic value (which BTW have always been popular). Popularity is an external force on price. The fact that they are shiny or what have you (the actual qualities of the items) is what defines their intrinsic value.

RE: Please
By moneytalks on 8/19/2011 3:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
married :)

Try to give your wife cubic zirconium or fools gold. Both have very similar properties in that they are shiny and sparkle. See how much she likes it once she finds out they are fake.

Intrinsic value is based on the physical properties of an object. To use the example from the other thread, copper is conductive. Copper will always be conductive.

Wheat has instrinsic physical properties but these change over time and hence the intrinsic value of wheat deteriorates. BTW, beer is an attempt to extend the intrinsic value of wheat by storing calories.

Gold has intrinsic value. Gold can be used in manufacturing becuase of its physical properties. This is not why people hoard gold. They hold gold becuase they believe it is rare and that other people will perceive its value to be so high that they will trade it for useful commodities or services.

Perceived value can be based on intrinsic value or it can be completely subjective and change over time but percieved value is not instrinsic.

Diamonds were not considered that valuable even a century ago. The whole idea of a diamond engagement ring is based on a marketing program undertaken by DeBeers. This marketing program and cartel like control of the supply greatly enhanced the perceived value of diamonds. Before this program women did not expect diamonds for an engagement ring.

Women like things like diamonds or cows becuase they figure they have value that will come in handy if the man abandons them. At least this is one hypothesis. The cow may sound funny but not everyone lives in a rich industrial area.

In some cultures the cow is held by the family but considered the womens property. She can sell the milk to earn a living if the man fails to provide.

The cow has instrinsic value. Diamonds have value only as long as someone is willing to give the women a cow for her diamond. Diamonds may have instrinic value for manufacturing if the women can figure out how to use it as a tool to make other things.

RE: Please
By The Raven on 8/22/2011 11:00:49 AM , Rating: 2
Saying the same thing over and over doesn't make it right or relevant. So how does BTC or paper currency have intrinsic value? That is what this is all about. What would you rather have: gold or a dollar bill?

I mean it seems as if you are saying that everything but gold has intrinsic value since people are fools that would be just as happy with pyrite.

And furthermore (to the original topic) do you understand why BTC (theorhetically) is better than paper currency?

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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