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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 JediJeb on 8/17/2011 6:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
I just looked this up, interesting idea. I really like this quote on the Wiki page;

quote:
A common[58][citation needed] criticism is that the initial bitcoin distribution is heavily advantageous towards early-adopters. As stated, bitcoins are distributed ("generated") as an award for the solution to a difficult proof-of-work problem. The drawback is that the amount of work that must be done for one bitcoin is currently over 500,000 times more than the amount of work at which the first bitcoins were going. As more people join, and also because of a reward function that halves the number of rewarded bitcoins every so many blocks, it becomes harder to generate bitcoins over time, using the same computing power.[59][60] Because early adopters now have a disproportionate amount of Bitcoins compared to newcomers and that newcomers will never have a chance to "catch up", the current hype being generated by proponents has also been labeled by critics as a pump and dump scheme by early adopters looking to cash in on their large Bitcoin collections.[61]


So what makes this currency any different for all the other "official" currencies worldwide? If a country goes off the gold standard the first people to cash in their gold for dollars get a better price for their gold. Then as everyone wants dollars instead of gold the price of gold drops. If something like the current economic crash happens people lose faith in the dollar and want to return to gold, which pushes the price up. The stock market works the same way too. Think of how much the first people to purchase MicroSoft stock made from that compared to people who purchase it today.

If this currency actually can go legit, you know every country in the world will be attacking it if it begins to cut into the value of their currency. Right now they only worry because some drug deals may be taking place using it, but let Wal Mart start accepting this and you can bet the Treasury Department will crack down on it because they will not be able to tax it accordingly. Same reason the government tries to crack down on "Barter" networks, where people exchange goods and services among themselves instead of cash. The government hates for you to trade mowing someones lawn for them repairing your roof because they can't easily tax that.


RE: Please
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 8/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: Please
By EricMartello on 8/23/2011 1:03:24 AM , Rating: 2
This may be the most moronic post I've stumbled across on DT in ages. Are you seriously mixing "morality" and "law" together as if they are one in the same? We follow reasonable laws...but laws, like the politicians who create them, do not always serve the best interests of the people...and these laws do not need to be followed (nor should they be), and can be challenged.

Taxation exists for FINANCIAL transactions; trading services or goods absent dollars is NOT a taxable transaction even if the government wants you to think it is.


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