Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bitcoin Security IT

GPGPU Bitcoin Mining Trojan 258

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-thats-not-so-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Security researchers have unearthed a piece of malware that mints a digital currency known as Bitcoins by harnessing the immense power of an infected machine's graphical processing units. According to new research from antivirus provider Symantec, Trojan.Badminer uses GPUs to generate virtual coins through a practice known as minting. That's the term for solving difficult cryptographic proof-of-work problems and being rewarded with 50 Bitcoins for each per correct block."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

GPGPU Bitcoin Mining Trojan

Comments Filter:
  • Typo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:03AM (#37118078)

    It's actually known as mining, not minting, even though it still makes sense. :D

  • Fake? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mikkeles (698461)

    Would these count as counterfeit bitcoins? ;^)

    • Re:Fake? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ComaVN (325750) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:16AM (#37118194)

      no, why would they?

      Gold mined by slaves is still gold, and I guess the same applies here.

    • by Stellian (673475)

      They are just as genuine as the ones generated by people infected with the get-rich-quick-bitcoin-bug, al miners compete for a fixed number of bitcoins.

      As it turns out, the "immense power of an infected machine's graphical processing unit" is not that large when up against a bunch of people determined to make it big. The current hash rate of the network is 12Thash/second while a typical infected machine will have a low end graphics card, say 20 MHash/second (a vast majority will not have OpenCL-capable card

      • by Nursie (632944)

        I don't think the control of the network thing is that much of a concern is it?

        To me the worse thing here is that bitcoin is being generated illegally, bringing the bitcoin system even further into disrepute that it already is.

        • by Rennt (582550)
          Illegal generation of bitcoins? Not as far as the bitcoin system is concerned. If an unregulated system doesn't care, then who does? The unauthorized use of computer systems is a problem, but after that point they are not doing anything illegal.
          • by Nursie (632944)

            "Illegal generation of bitcoins? Not as far as the bitcoin system is concerned."

            "The unauthorized use of computer systems is a problem"

            How are these things not connected in your mind?
            Some of the currency is being generated illegally. No, the bitcoin system doesn't know or care. This is a further strike against it.

            • by gregor-e (136142)
              "Some of the currency is being generated illegally. No, the bitcoin system doesn't know or care. This is a further strike against it."
              Slaves have been forced to mine gold illegally. No, the gold-based currencies of the world don't know or care. This is a further strike against them.
              • by Nursie (632944)

                While the analogy doesn't really hold completely, I don't really disagree.

                What's your point here?

                • by walshy007 (906710)

                  Likely that even though a valued resource can be acquired through illegal acts, it does not really speak anything of the resource, at all.

                  As a further analogy along those general lines, a robber could kill you in the street and take the cash in your wallet, is this a strike against allowing any hard currency in your opinion?

                • by jeffmeden (135043)

                  The point is that you are "supposed" to be able to mint bitcoins this way, it is in the design of the system. Why would there be anything wrong with doing something the system was designed to support? If you want to argue that it's wrong to get other peoples computers to do it for you, then that's one angle, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the act of mining bitcoins through CPU/GPU work, plain and simple, despite the TFA making it sound like it's akin to cracking online banking accounts just be

                  • by Nursie (632944)

                    "Why would there be anything wrong with doing something the system was designed to support?"

                    The system was designed to support the use of other folks equipment and electricity without their knowledge or permission?
                    Really?
                    I don't exactly agree with much about bitcoin, but I wouldn't go that far.

                    there is absolutely nothing wrong with the act of mining bitcoins through CPU/GPU work, plain and simple, despite the TFA making it sound like it's akin to cracking online banking accounts just because there is money

                    • by jeffmeden (135043)

                      Then allow me to clarify:

                      To me the worse thing here is that bitcoin is being generated illegally, bringing the bitcoin system even further into disrepute that it already is.

                      This is akin to stating "There was a news article about $500,000 that was spent on heroin from Guatemala. This certainly calls into question the practicality of the us dollar". These two things are completely separate, that's what is being pointed out. Bitcoin doesnt have a problem except for the fact that some people are doing something illegal (owning/operating a botnet) and their work on said botnet is related to Bitcoins.

                      Put an even simpler way just in case this isn't clear,

                    • by Nursie (632944)

                      "Bitcoin doesnt have a problem except for the fact that some people are doing something illegal (owning/operating a botnet) and their work on said botnet is related to Bitcoins."

                      And the Silk Road
                      And the various exchange-related losses, scandals and frauds.
                      And the lack of various features of a decent monetary system
                      And the lack of anything to do with BTC that's not Silk Road related or buying a BTC badge.
                      And a load of other things.

                      "There was a news article about $500,000 that was spent on heroin from Guatema

                    • by jeffmeden (135043)

                      Granted, it's possible to misunderstand the situation and make of it what you have, but I guess I was being insufficiently meta in trying to correct your assertion that the bitcoin activity inside the trojan was illegal in some way (which it's not)... If you are referring only to perception and not to reality, then that's a whole different can of worms. Carry on.

                    • by Nursie (632944)

                      I was indeed referring to perception.

                      However I'm still surprised that you don't think the activity of the trojan is illegal - using someone else's machine without their permission. It's basically malware at that point, regardless of it's intent, isn't it?

                      I'm well aware that bitcoin mining itself, on machines that you own/have permission to use, is perfectly legal.

                    • It's really a shame that Bitcoin is getting such negative press. It has real, legitimate and web changing possibilities if it drops the negative associations and begins to become legitimate. In particular, it would allow anonymous micro-transactions without a per-transaction fee. This could be HUGE for web developers, designers, bloggers and anyone who works online for a living. It would allow us to bypass the big advertising networks and get money directly from our customers with little-to-no transaction f
                    • by jeffmeden (135043)

                      It's much like the marijuana debate; being high isn't necessarily illegal, nor is the act itself of smoking... As you work backward the problems start when you are found to actually be in possession (or have an intent to possess) the drug. So, like this trojan, the activity it's carrying out isnt illegal, rather how it got there is what is illegal (by our current laws and definitions.) There is a pretty big difference, but that may be only obvious to me due to the awareness of semantics required to be a n

              • by shentino (1139071)

                You can also get good currency by robbing a bank.

                And the cash you spend isn't subject to confiscation and return to the bank, because society deems the liquidity of cash as a whole to be more important than personal property rights.

            • by Rennt (582550)

              Some of the currency is being generated illegally.

              No, it is not.

              There is no such thing as illegal generation of bitcoins. Sure, the illegal access of systems is connected to the generation of bitcoins, but that connection has nothing to do with legality.

              • by Nursie (632944)

                "There is no such thing as illegal generation of bitcoins. Sure, the illegal access of systems is connected to the generation of bitcoins, but that connection has nothing to do with legality."

                So illegally using someones machine to generate bitcoins is not illegal generation of bitcoins?

                I disagree, and those are some mighty fine semantic distinctions you're selling there.

                • by Rennt (582550)
                  Just try to get a court - any court, anywhere in the world - who would entertain the notion of "illegal generation of bitcoins" and then we can talk.
                  • by Nursie (632944)

                    Wait, so you're saying that if I break into your house and start using your furniture to make burtnips (whatever they may be), I'm not illegally making burtnips?

                    The courts would call it a variety of offenses, most likely breaking and entering, destruction of property, maybe theft if I removed my burtnips from the property, but I would most certainly have been illegally making burtnips.

                    So again, I disagree and your semantic argument is just that, semantic.

                  • by jvkjvk (102057)

                    Now wait a minute.

                    Aren't you part of the faction that is claiming the BTC have monetary value?

                    I think the courts would entertain the notion of "illegal generation of bitcoins" just as well as any other illegal use of someone else's resources to produce a product.

                    Why do you think it is not so?

                    Regards.

                    • by Rennt (582550)

                      Aren't you part of the faction that is claiming the BTC have monetary value?

                      No... not really. I do think BTC is an interesting experiment that raises a lot of questions. Do I have to be in a faction?

                    • by jvkjvk (102057)

                      Yes, it is mandatory. You can be in the faction that isn't in any factions, though. :)

                      More practically, my argument works much better if BTC has value and that "fact" is agreed upon up front.

                      Regards.

                • Your problem is that you don't understand how bitcoin works. It's not like fiat currency that you can illegally print if you steal a printer. There is only one way to get bitcoin. It can't be counterfeited. It's just like gold. You can't print counterfeit gold. If you could somehow chemically convert lead to gold the resulting gold would not be a counterfeit. It would be real gold and be valued the same as all other real gold. And the only reason gold has value is because people value it. Gold is intrinsica
                  • by Nursie (632944)

                    I'm not talking about counterfeits, the OP did but was quickly disabused of the notion.

                    I'm talking about *genuine* bitcoin generated by illegal activity. I'm well aware that there will be no difference between what comes from these miners and that coming from others.

                    • In that case, it wasn't the bitcoin-specific activity that was illegal. It was the acquisition of the botnet that was illegal. It would not be the bitcoin folks who would take issue with this guy. It would be the people who's machines he hacked. This whole debate has *nothing* to do with bitcoin. The guy could have used the botnet to perform a DoS attack. He could have used it to run a spam operation. He could have done nothing at all with it. In either case we are talking about the hacker here and the fact
              • The minted bitcoins may be "legal" in the context of the bitcoin community, but I think what the GP poster is getting at here is that the fact that illicit means are being pursued to generate these bitcoins may indeed be causing the bitcoin community to be considered as being less-than-trustworthy.

                The whole idea behind bitcoin was, IIUC, that it could exist in a fully unregulated environment, and that it was effectively as safe (and as dangerous, i.e. possible to lose) as cash. If the mainstream public
      • by iteyoidar (972700)
        Though with the current exchanges, it's impossible to withdraw more than $10,000 of bitcoins a month, so you'd never get most of that "value" out anyway. You'd be better off using that computational power to rent out a real botnet if you actually managed to infect 500,000 machines (Not to mention moving that much money through banks would draw a lot of suspicion even if you could get it all out, hopefully you have an account in a country where the banks are as poorly regulated as bitcoins...)
  • Intriguing (Score:5, Funny)

    by BetterThanCaesar (625636) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:10AM (#37118140)
    A digital currency called Bitcoins, you say? Intriguing, tell me more! </sarcasm>
  • by gazbo (517111) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:11AM (#37118144)
    This "digital currency" sounds fascinating - I wonder why Slashdot's never covered it before?!
    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      You see, I've turned the moon into what I like to call a "death star", using something called "la-ser", funded by "bit-coin". I hereby hold the world ransomed for... wait for it... one MILLION "bit-coins"!

      --Dr. Evil, 1FsaZ4yM1zSD9jyA2XD1gKftZzNe58JJBG

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:25AM (#37118286) Homepage
    I'm sure the crackers will enjoy spending their virtual pennies on any of the varied goods and services available within the Bitcoin economy: herpes, home brewed acid, and yaoi themed web sites.
    • by danpat (119101)

      With the currency exchanges (MtGox, etc), it's trivial to turn bitcoins into real money.

      • by Nursie (632944)

        Trivial?

        Not from what I've been reading. The money has to go via various other services and exchanges just to get to your bank account, with a variety of fees imposed along the way, and delays of up to several days.

        Easy enough if the bitcoins were 'free' I suppose, but not so much for anyone thinking of them as anything other than a scam.

        • by tepples (727027)

          The money has to go via various other services and exchanges just to get to your bank account

          The fee for Dwolla is what, 0.25 USD per transaction?

        • by Rennt (582550)

          Easy enough if the bitcoins were 'free' I suppose, but not so much for anyone thinking of them as anything other than a scam.

          Okay, I just can't help myself... you think the actual bitcoin protocol is a scam now?

          • by Nursie (632944)

            No, I think mining them with a trojan is a scam, and that if you think of them/use them as a scam then setting up accounts and waiting a few days for the cash to trickle through is not a big deal, because you're getting them ''free".

            For the honest user, I'm suggesting that the delays and fees involved in the process of conversion to actual cash are non-trivial. Not exactly a hardship either, but non-trivial.

        • Actually it is pretty easy. Especially with tools like www.bitcoinlocator.com with which you can find people near you to trade bitcoins and cash in person.

    • Or they can buy the “Bought This Bitcoins Badge With Bitcoins [nerdmeritbadges.com]” badge with Bitcoins.
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      I'm sure the crackers will enjoy spending their virtual pennies on any of the varied goods and services available within the Bitcoin economy: herpes, home brewed acid, and yaoi themed web sites.

      omg lol.

  • I am not sure. But everybody with a little bit of real understanding should know that bitcoin is a fucked idea. It wont work, for a number of reasons.

    The most important one is that the creation of a bitcoin is *not* backed by anything. It burns computational power for nothing. But just using energy to produce it does not input *value* in the same way in which printing a bill or forging a coin does not produce any value.

    It only links the the will to back this money to whoever puts his name on it.

    There would

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:35AM (#37118402)

      Good god, the "not backed by anything" argument again. Please come up with something that has at least a tiny contact with reality. Bitcoin has been criticized enough that you should be able to find a relevant criticism fairly easily with google.

      Modern currencies typically aren't backed by anything. They only have value because people trust they have value. This works just fine for established currencies and we've already seen it works surprisingly well even for extremely tiny currencies like bitcoin.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Modern currencies typically aren't backed by anything. They only have value because people trust they have value.

        They're backed by the resources, goods, and services of the issuing nation. Bitcoins don't even have that going for them.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          And bitcoin is backed by the resources, goods, and services of the international community of people who accept bitcoins.

        • They're backed by the resources, goods, and services of the issuing nation.

          In many cases, those "issuing nations" are deep in debt and have a vested interest in inflating their debt away.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            That is so, so true. But then, any currency without built-in devaluation of some type only leads to hoarding.

        • They're backed by the resources, goods, and services of the issuing nation.

          No they aren't. Not in the slightest. You cannot get gold/M16s or anything else from the US governement as a way of redeeming dollars. (They will auction off some things I suppose, but that's just a regular transaction).

      • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @10:20AM (#37118820)

        Modern currencies typically aren't backed by anything. They only have value because people trust they have value. This works just fine for established currencies and we've already seen it works surprisingly well even for extremely tiny currencies like bitcoin.

        You're wrong.

        Modern currencies are backed by the governments which issue them. More bluntly, modern currencies are backed by modern government's ability to tax the labor of their citizens and imprison them if they do not pay. You trust that the currency is worth something in part because of the trust that everyone places in the currency itself (the prices that people set for goods), but also because the government buys services and goods (labor and goods), sells rights and services (user fees, police service, defense), and transacts in that currency (meaning that citizens of that government pretty much need to transact in that currency, at least in part, as well).

        BitCoin cannot imprison me if I do not pay it in bitcoins. BitCoin does not inconvenience me in the least if I refuse to accept it. BitCoin only marginally inconveniences me if I decide not to pay for goods using it. BitCoin is not "backed by anything" tangible, such as gold, or practical, such as a need to use it. There's your substantial contact with reality.

        • by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy@Lakeman.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @11:09AM (#37119346)

          Modern currencies are backed by the banks which issue them.

          FTFY. Most "currency" in circulation these days is just numbers in bank accounts. Which arrived there as deposits paid from loans or credit cards. Backed by the bank's asset ledger, which includes a significant percentage of housing loans...

          Cash, printed and / or issued by the government or central bank is insignificant in comparison.

          • by DRJlaw (946416)

            FTFY. Most "currency" in circulation these days is just numbers in bank accounts. Which arrived there as deposits paid from loans or credit cards. Backed by the bank's asset ledger, which includes a significant percentage of housing loans...

            No, you didn't fix that for me. You broke it with your utterly incorrect conception of how a currency works. Banks do not create a currency or even back it. Banks take in currency and loan currency. The only assets a bank has are property that it has bought in exchan

        • Your definition of backed is not what the rest of the world would agree to.

          Baked simply means: there is some "true" value in it. I'm german. From my point of view american dollars are not backed at all.

          If the dollar drops into oblivion I can not get anything with my dollars anymore ... so they are obvioulsy not backed However you still can pay your taxes with them ;D

        • by Jonner (189691)

          Modern currencies typically aren't backed by anything. They only have value because people trust they have value. This works just fine for established currencies and we've already seen it works surprisingly well even for extremely tiny currencies like bitcoin.

          You're wrong.

          Modern currencies are backed by the governments which issue them. More bluntly, modern currencies are backed by modern government's ability to tax the labor of their citizens and imprison them if they do not pay. You trust that the currency is worth something in part because of the trust that everyone places in the currency itself (the prices that people set for goods), but also because the government buys services and goods (labor and goods), sells rights and services (user fees, police service, defense), and transacts in that currency (meaning that citizens of that government pretty much need to transact in that currency, at least in part, as well).

          BitCoin cannot imprison me if I do not pay it in bitcoins. BitCoin does not inconvenience me in the least if I refuse to accept it. BitCoin only marginally inconveniences me if I decide not to pay for goods using it. BitCoin is not "backed by anything" tangible, such as gold, or practical, such as a need to use it. There's your substantial contact with reality.

          If you think US Dollars have value because the US Government can force people to accept them, you're very confused. I grew up in third world countries where they were always highly valued because they retained value better than the local currency. The value in a currency is simply the result of confidence. The more confidence people have in a currency system, the more value it has. The confidence may be inspired by economic power, military power or simply a shared delusion.

          More simply, if you can trade some

      • Modern currencies are backed by fiat and an existing economy - you won't find one example of a modern currency which was not backed by a gold, silver or some other standard before it became fiat (including the Euro), and that is because economies earn the right to move their currencies to a fiat standard.

        BitCoin is neither backed by fiat nor by an existing economy - it really is accepted on the basis of "just because we want it to be".

      • Modern currencies typically aren't backed by anything. They only have value because people trust they have value.

        Not true. Modern currencies have a consumer who insists on being paid in them... the country itself.

    • by Rennt (582550)

      The most important one is that the creation of a bitcoin is *not* backed by anything. It burns computational power for nothing. But just using energy to produce it does not input *value* in the same way in which printing a bill or forging a coin does not produce any value.

      Printing or minting does not generate value either. Assuming for argument sake that bills and bitcoins where both uncounterfeitable*, then what difference is there? It is just an abstract thing to be traded for goods and or services.

      * ignoring that in reality bitcoins are much harder to counterfeit then hard currency... also setting aside that AFAIK uncounterfeitable is not an actual word.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Like gold? All gold does is make it difficult to print extra money. Bitcoin does that too. Try again.

    • Assets (i.e. shares of stock) have real, useful, "stuff" usually behind them.

      But currency? Not even gold has that much worth outside of it's value as a medium of trade. It has certain useful properties, but those properties are all out of proportion to its currency value. (i.e. I can light fires with $100 bills, but that isn't what gives $100 bills value.) A currency is used as a medium of convenient trade in place of actual useful items.

      We use currency (Gold, BitCoins, Dollars, Euros, Silver, seashells

    • by subreality (157447) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @10:50AM (#37119152)

      Fiat currency: Basically every major world currency is by fiat now. There are good arguments both ways, but if you feel strongly about this, I hope you keep all your assets in gold instead of USD, which isn't backed by anything.

      CPU: The CPU/GPU cycles aren't wasted. They provide the security for BTC by making it computationally infeasible to double-spend (you'd need to out-compute the rest of the network). If you know a better way to do this in a decentralized way, speak up!

      Why BitCoin and Slashdot: Because it's the intersection of the networking, cryptography, economics, freedom from central authorities, and futurism. Perhaps you don't care, but collectively, it's stuff we're interested in. I don't suggest BitCoin as an investment (the value is driven more by speculation than need at present - you'll lose your shirt unless you have experience in forex and penny stocks), but it's absolutely an interesting topic for discussion - even if only so we can find the flaws and start thinking about how to start Bitcoin2 without them.

      Disclosure:
      My present holdings: < 5BTC
      My market position: no orders open or planned
      My business: The making and selling of physical goods and services (legal, non-BTC-related)
      My goal: a stable, international currency with no central authority taking a percentage of every sale I make or controlling my funds

    • by arevos (659374)

      The most important one is that the creation of a bitcoin is *not* backed by anything. It burns computational power for nothing.

      In general, it helps to have some understanding of a system before criticising it, otherwise you risk looking like an idiot.

      Bitcoin does not burn computational power for nothing. The computations have a very specific purpose: to make it infeasible for an attacker to double-spend bitcoins. All that CPU power is dedicated toward securing the network.

      This also gives bitcoins value beyond that assigned by speculators. Securing a distributed digital currency requires a lot of processing power. The more processin

  • Anyone running a mining pool knew this was out there or should know. One account with hundreds of connections from different machines turning in a relatively small number of shares points straight to botnet activity.
    • by Nursie (632944)

      Why would someone running a botnet bother using a mining pool?

      Surely they're their own pool at that point?

      • by teaserX (252970)
        The main advantage of a pool is the steady payout. You get paid a small share of the solved blocks a few times an hour instead waiting weeks to get the payout for entire block. Typically your pool account with allow you to claim you bitcoins every 24 hours. Botnets are going to be comprised of many horribly weak miners (probably CPUs not GPUs) and even a huge botnet won't be able to solve a block in 24 hours. The incentive to use a pool is the same for those mining on a botnet as those mining on their ow
  • All these bitcoin articles remind me of the Second Life articles they used to run here. If you had read /. back then, you'd think we all had avatars and all made millions selling virtual real estate, setting up a virtual B&M company presence, and converting our Linden dollars to real dollars(sound familiar?). My guess is all those folks are now making bitcoins...

  • by arisvega (1414195) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @10:44AM (#37119096)

    by harnessing the immense power

    .. of the Sun?

    .. of a Neutron Star?

    Dude, chill.

  • Bitcoin will be the perfect currency for the libertarian paradise out in the ocean.
  • I fail to see how this has any impact on the BTC network stability -- in fact, they're only helping to make the network more secure. The only known vulnerability in the network is the threat of someone being able to write blocks faster than all the other non-cooperating nodes, which means single-handedly controlling more than 50% of the entire global bitcoin computation. The more miners there are, the harder this is.

    The more direct threat here is if the botnet itself approaches 50%+ of the network. But
  • by alanw (1822)

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

Working...