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Malware operators are once again trying to generate profits from the cloud, this time by stealing the resources of infected computers and selling them to a new distributed-computing network, researchers from Kaspersky said.

After infecting a computer, the malware downloads and installs the MetaTrader 5 Tester Agent, software that uses spare CPU cycles to test custom-written software used in financial trading systems. Operator MetaQuotes Software Corp. has more details about how to participate in its MQL5 Cloud Network here. Trojan-Downloader.Win32.MQL5Miner.a, as Kaspersky has christened the malware, sets up an account controlled by the attackers that gets credited.

With hundreds of millions of computers sitting idle on desktops around the world, there's an untold number of petaflops worth of resources that go unused each day. Legitimate software developers, such as those behind the SETI Project, have been tapping these spare CPU cycles for years. Botnet operators do much the same thing when they use infected computers to send spam or wage denial-of-service attacks.

Over the past few months, crooks have expanded the revenue potential of infected machines by using their spare resources to perform legitimate tasks. A variety of titles, including Infostealer.Coinbit,, use a hijacked PC's GPU and other resources to mine the digital currency known as Bitcoin.

“When it comes to making money, cybercriminals don't miss a trick,” Kaspersky Lab Expert Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky wrote. “That includes exploiting the resources of infected computers without their owners' knowledge or consent.”

The malware appears to spread through email attachments. ®

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