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Trojan turns your PC into Bitcoin mining slave


Maybe it’s a sign of the Bitcoin bubble. Criminals are trying to
take control of PCs and turn them into Bitcoin miners.

According to antivirus seller Kaspersky Lab
, there’s a new
Trojan — spotted on 4 April and spreading via Skype — that takes
control of infected machines and forces them to do what is known as
Bitcoin mining, a way of earning digital currency.

The Bitcoin digital currency system rewards miners (in bitcoins,
natch) for their number-crunching work, which is essential to
keeping the anonymous Bitcoin currency system working. With the
Trojan, hackers are forcing others’ machines to earn them money,
and it can really put a strain on these machines. Victims might
notice that their CPU usage shoots sky high.

On 4 April, the Trojan was spreading via Skype messages. In one
Spanish message obtained by Kaspersky, the Trojan was supposed to
be a “favourite” picture of the victim.

About two thousand people per hour were clicking on the website
hosting the Trojan software, Kaspersky said. “Most of potential
victims live in Italy then Russia, Poland, Costa Rica, Spain,
Germany, Ukraine and others,” Kaspersky Researcher Dmitry Bestuzhev
wrote in a blog post.

Once computer criminals have tricked you into downloading a
Trojan, they have control of your computer, and there are a lot of
things they could do. And the Trojan isn’t only used for Bitcoin
mining, Kaspersky says.

This isn’t the first time a Bitcoin mining Trojan has popped up,
and malicious software that flat-out steals bitcoins has been
around for years. Two years ago, Symantec spotted a Trojan —
— that sniffed out graphical processing units
and used them to crank out bitcoins.

A regular PC wouldn’t be able to do much Bitcoin mining on its
own, but hackers could pretty easily register a group of
compromised computers with a specific Bitcoin mining pool and point
all of the systems there, according to Charlie Shrem, the founder
of Bitcoin payment processor Bitinstant. “If he infiltrates a
million computers, then it will pay off,” he said in an email

Bitcoins have been on a price surge lately. On 5 April, they
were trading at about $140 (£98), about ten times their value at
the end of 2012.

Maybe that makes mining a little more attractive to the bad

This story first appeared on

Image: Shutterstock

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