Yahoo Ad Malware Was An Attempt To Build A Secret Bitcoin Mining Botnet
from the bitcoin-mining-scams-on-the-rise dept
A decade ago, it was actually fairly common to see various “distributed computing” projects seek to put a variety of people’s computers to use to tackle tough problems — and sometimes those distributed efforts involved clearly revealed and transparent code within other applications. A couple years ago, just as Bitcoin was first starting to get attention, I remember hearing from someone who was talking about trying to build a media player that would look to offer licensed/authorized content in exchange for quietly being a part of a Bitcoin mining effort. Nowadays, it appears that this idea of creating secret distributed Bitcoin mining is taking on a somewhat more questionable reputation. A gaming software company was whacked with a $1 million fine after (the company claims) a “rogue employee” included some Bitcoin mining hidden within their app. There have been accusations that a number of other apps out there are also secretly mining bitcoin.
Just recently, we noted that Yahoo users in Europe were exposed to malicious ads that were downloading malware. It’s now come out that the malware was… Bitcoin mining software, which sought to use some of everyone’s excess computing resources to hunt for more Bitcoin. As “malware” goes, this is actually a lot less damaging than some other stuff out there (keyloggers designed to steal bank info, for example). It likely would bump up electricity bills slightly for some users, and basic PC mining is pretty ineffective, but it’s interesting to see that malware folks are taking such extreme steps to try to build secret Bitcoin mining networks.
Of course, it still seems like doing this kind of thing in an upfront way might be an interesting business model: offer some useful software for free, telling folks very clearly that the “payment” is that they’ll be using some of your spare cycles for mining. Of course, it might be better if this was done for cryptocurrencies that weren’t so damn inefficient with electricity — something like Peercoin instead of Bitcoin, for example. I imagine it’s really only a matter of time. Imagine a Netflix/Hulu competitor that offered you the content for free, in exchange for distributed computing power, paying the licenses out of the proceeds from the mining. It’s not that crazy when you think about it…