Feeds

New malware ferrets out and steals Bitcoins

Hopelessly devoted to you

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.