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back to article Cyberthugs put YOUR PC to work as Bitcoin-mining SLAVE

The recent volatility in the value of Bitcoins hasn't prevented cybercriminals from cooking up new ways to distribute malware engineered to mine the currency using compromised computers. Security researchers at ThreatTrack Security have uncovered examples where the infamous Blackhole exploit kit is being used to distribute a …

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Obviously a bad thing, but...

Obviously hijacking machines to do this is a bad thing, but it's not bad for bitcoin.

Mining is primarily the mechanism for securing the transactions, getting free bitcoins is just a deliberate side effect to get people to actually do it. So this makes the network stronger and less vulnerable to attacks. Assuming of course they are running a proper client but it would soon be noticed if they were not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obviously a bad thing, but...

This article is click-bait. The amount of compute power you need to mine bitcoins for profit is now well beyond the realms of standard PC's and up in multi-GPU land.

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FAIL

Re: Obviously a bad thing, but...

Incorrect. If you are using someone else's compute power, it is free (to you), therefore any income derived is considered profit. Obviously, this does not include the time taken to write the malware, but that can be considered a sunk cost.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obviously a bad thing, but...

@Tom Maddox. Two things. First. Do you know how long it takes to mine a coin ? Second. It's only free if you assume that the opportunity cost is zero. ie. The pwned machine cannot be profitably used by malware for anything else.

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Re: Obviously a bad thing, but...

1) Irrelevant.

2) Also irrelevant. I have no idea whether the malware spreaders have done a cost-benefit analysis, but your point has to do with optimizing for maximum profitability rather than whether a net profit is being obtained. It may be that the bitcoin miners are not making the optimum profit for their labor, but that doesn't mean they're not profiting.

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Stop

Re: Obviously a bad thing, but...

Borh points are relevant and related. The entire malware business -well the commercial side, not nation state side- relies on stealth in order to make a return. Let the user know they are pwned and it's game over. Bitcoins take so much power to mine that is is practically impossible to both hide and mine. Mining is also a side effect of encrytping traffic so you need to be part of the bitcoin network. All of these activities leave you exposed to being spotted and shut down. Given that it can take years to mine a block, the risk return ratio is pretty low. Crooks routinely make thousands from nicked credit cards and other bank scams. They aren't going to risk that for the couple of hundred dollars they might get if they're ining effort is lucky.

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Did a very similar thing as my MSc project, using distributed computing to split prime calculation between nodes in a network. Not using botnets for these kind of distributed calculations obviously, but it's not a bad idea for any enterprising criminal mastermind out there. Want to borrow my botnet to simulate protein folding?

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Anonymous Coward

Recent Crash?

Loaded statements like this make people forget that they are worth double what they were a month ago still....it was a spike, not a crash. Learn the difference.

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Re: Recent Crash?

haha tell that to all the people that piled into it in the last month. last time i checked, losing two thirds of somethings value in a few hours constitutes a crash in anyones language.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Recent Crash?

It lost two thirds of its value AFTER quadrupling in value in a very short period of time. People who had even the slightest bit of common sense to see that it was a spike sold when it was high and made it big, whereas people who don't understand economics and "piled into it" lost money. Any way you spin it, buying at an all time high that was nearly 5x the previous month's is a bad investment, so I have no problem telling it to them.

Those who took a calculated risk, on the other hand, and bought when it was in the 100s range and waited too long to sell, would already have their money back by now.

By all means, if you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen but don't expect a chef to have the same problem.

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Paris Hilton

Russian pr0n

"ThreatTrack researcher Jovi Umawing said her team had initially found the Blackhole exploit throwing out the Fareit Bitcoin mining attack hosted on a dubious Russian adult website. She said the researchers had been following links from a redirector URL they had been monitoring."

Sure. That's what I told my other half too.

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What is "the puzzle"?

I haven't looked long and hard at this, but the question that immediately came to my mind, and very disturbingly nobody elses, is: does the mining serve a useful purpose, like protein folding?

Because then it could work, value is created and so is money. If the computing power is wasted on something useless, than it can never work. Money is issued without any value against it.

If the money seems to have value, it's only speculation and eventually it will have zero value.

So the question is: does the mining serve a useful purpose?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What is "the puzzle"?

The short answer is NO!

I asked the same question in another Bitcoin article recently. Basically people responded that the mining algorithm can't be adapted in that way, because the integrity of the Bitcoin system is inextricably linked to the non-useful-mining but nonetheless necessary for system-integrity-checking process. I suggested tying Bitcoin into SETI amongst other ideas, but apparently that would necessitate designing a new type of virtual currency, and it also would also be wasteful, because many people would still have to verify the results.

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Boffin

Re: What is "the puzzle"?

It kind of does serve a useful purpose, in the sense that "mining" is actually securing transactions. That is, miners are actually people who keep the whole system up & working, and the "mined" BTC are basically payment for keeping up the whole infrastructure.

It doesn't have an extra value though.

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Re: What is "the puzzle"?

"If the money seems to have value, it's only speculation and eventually it will have zero value."

I hate(*) to be a killjoy and shattermyth, but all modern money is like that. Read very carefully about "fiat currency", bearing in mind that all modern currencies are fiat. Nobody backs money with real objects (gold, silver, land, seashells, blocks of salt, future tax revenues etc.) anymore, not since the "Nixon Shock" of 1971 when the US ended the fixed-rate convertibility between US dollars and gold.

(*) Actually, that's just a saying. I get a sort of grim satisfaction from pointing out to someone that they've said something more or less spectacularly silly.

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Actually that might be a good thing

If the cost of not securing your PC is a high electricity bill, people might actually start taking it seriously.

Up to now the "it's others that get spammed or ddosed and I don't do serious business with it, anyway" attitude is far too widespread.

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