Feeds

New malware ferrets out and steals Bitcoins

Hopelessly devoted to you

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

You know your virtual currency has hit the big leagues when criminals develop trojans that infect computers for the sole purpose of stealing it. Bitcoin, the open-source project launched two years ago, reached that turning point Thursday.

That's when researchers from Symantec discovered Infostealer.Coinbit, a piece of Windows malware that ferrets out the digital wallet stashed on Bitcoin users' hard drives and uploads it to an SMTP server that's probably located in Poland. It's the first report of a trojan in the wild that targets the digital cash, but Symantec researchers said its only a matter of time until the feature is found in other pieces of malware.

“If you use Bitcoins, you have the option to encrypt your wallet and we recommend that you choose a strong password for this in the event that an attacker is attempting to brute-force your wallet open,” Symantec's Stephen Doherty wrote in a blog post.

The advice makes sense, since Bitcoins are just like cash in the sense that they lack any sort of intrinsic method of tracking the thief. The digital currency's peer-to-peer architecture was designed from the ground up to foster transactions that can't be reversed and to allow users to remain anonymous. A Bitcoin user calling himself Allinvain claims to have learned that lesson the hard way when, he said, someone stole coins theoretically valued at $500,000.

But this irreversibility points to a potential risk of following Symantec's advice to encrypt the wallet: Lose the key and your coins will be lost forever.

A separate Symantec researcher, Peter Coogan, has theorized a separate way online crooks could profit handsomely from a Bitcoin feature that allows users to “mine” coins by contributing CPU cycles to solving a cryptographic problem. Criminals wielding a botnet of 100,000 infected machines, for example, could generate $97,000 per month, assuming all nodes worked on the problem continuously. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.