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Bitcoin's so over. We're mining Primeco... Oh SNAP, my box is a ZOMBIE!

Malware writers target would-be fans of new cryptocurrency

Security experts have warned crypto-currency fans of malware hidden in certain miners for Bitcoin-alike cryptocurrency Primecoin.

The malicious Primecoin miners were found on various Chinese sites and torrents by Panda Security researcher Mehrdad Yazdizadeh.

"Primecoin miners are written in Python and other scripting languages and are using a variety of methods to infect the users' systems i.e. brute-forcing, privilege escalation, modify SQL tables," he told The Hacker News.

“On execution, the malware will inject the SQL server to cmd.exe, svchost.exe, explorer.exe and similar processes to hide itself as rootkits."

The malware apparently launches a brute force attack on user accounts for privilege escalation and will also try to download more malicious files from other servers.

It replicates through the file systems of the infected machine and disables any antivirus programs it finds, according to the report.

Once the attacker has control of an infected machine, it can be used remotely as part of a botnet to launch other attacks. As a result, the victim may notice unusually high CPU usage (that is, higher than the already high usage from the Primecoin mining).

The malware is undetected by most major security vendors, although Panda Security will apparently spot and block the threat.

Malware targeting crypto-currencies is nothing new, of course, but this latest discovery proves cyber-criminals are well aware there’s a thriving market to be exploited beyond Bitcoin.

Primecoin is an open source, P2P cryptocurrency which has only been around since July 2013.

It shares much of the same source code as Bitcoin but instead of using Hashcash as its proof-of-work system it finds sequences of prime numbers known as “Cunningham chains”. ®

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