Steam May Soon Accept Bitcoins

When it comes to PC gaming, everyone knows the feeling that happens when the Steam sales come on. Your bank account starts to hate you and you wish you didn’t save your card details as you click and drain your funds for games you won’t get to play for a few months if you are lucky. Now it looks like Steam may soon be accepting Bitcoins, draining both your physical and digital money with each sale.

Posted on a Reddit feed, the post appears to come from the Steamworks Development group, a private group for the platforms developers. The post teases that the company is looking to use an external payment provider to help accept bitcoins.

The post makes clear that the calculations will be done all via the external processor, with you still being charged the same amount and the processor acting as the middle man who takes your bitcoins and pays Valve the appropriate amount of traditional currency. Given the unstable nature of digital currency, this means that at no time does Valve hold the bitcoins, making sure they avoid any sudden drops or spikes in prices for the currency.

This process would make sense, but with concerns about the legality of people’s bitcoins and their stability, what happens if people make large purchases with “bad bitcoins”? With no effort on the side of developers or anyone who makes a purchase using the new system, I’m sure many will accept and enjoy the new option for buying all those games you want.

Ransomware Just Got Worse By The Use of JavaScript

Ransomware is probably one of the peskiest and most annoying things that your computer can catch. Not only do you lose access to your files, you have to pay a criminal to release them again. Even if you should choose to pay, there is no guarantee what-so-ever that the criminal will release the files again or hide more malware to hit you again once you are “free”. If that wasn’t bad enough, a new version of Ransom32 has arrived that exploits JavaScript in order to infect you and worst of all, barely any anti-virus and anti-malware programs will catch it at this time.

While all this sounds bad, there are ways to protect yourself and if you use common sense while surfing the web, then you should be safe anyway. Stay away from dubious websites and don’t touch any archive or executable downloaded from anything but official manufacturer websites. But let us get back to the new malware in question, the ransomware called Ransom32.

Ransom32 is built on the NW.js-Framework which was developed to build desktop applications on a javascript base. A really cool framework by the way. That, unfortunately, means that where we usually only see Windows users that are at risk, those with Linux and MacOS are equally vulnerable to Ransom32. Thanks to the use of this framework, the ransomware is able to get past the sandbox environment that JavaScript runs in these days.

The security researcher Fabian Wosar from EmsiSoft discovered the new Ransom32 as a self-extracting RAR-Archiv. If that archive is unpacked, it will hide in your temp folder and disguise itself as the Chrome web browser and be visible as Chrome.exe. This is where advanced users already had noticed it and not used any automatic-unpack function. However, should the new chrome.exe be executed, then it will start to encrypt all your files with AES-128 bit CTR-mode and also place itself firmly in the systems autostart features.

The Ransom32 creators have also made it very easy for people to use their tool. Evil minded people can access the tool via a Tor address. When on the site, they can customize the tools features before downloading it. The creators reportedly also use the same network for their control servers and connections. To top the whole thing off, the creators take 25 percent of the accumulated ransoms for themselves, and everything stays anonymous thanks to the use of Bitcoins.

We can only hope that the virus scanners and anti-malware tools get an update soon so the less tech-minded people won’t get infected by this nasty new piece of software. You can also read a lot more details about this new piece of software on the EmsiSoft blog.

US Federal Agent Admits To Stealing $820,000 Bitcoins From Silk Road

Shaun Bridges, a former US DEA agent who was investigating the online drug marketplace Silk Road, has been charged with obstructing justice and money laundering. He has since admitted the charges that were levelled against him.

So, how did Mr Bridges nick quite so many Bitcoins with a huge resale figure? According to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), Bridges was granted as part of the investigation to the rights to an administrator account on the notorious deep web black marketplace Silk Road. He misused his account by resetting the passwords and pocketing around 20,000 in Bitcoins from numerous wallets on the service, he then transferred the digital currency into his own wallet. Having quite a lot of Bitcoins in a virtual wallet is fun and all, but, Mr Bridges envisaged a big financial reward and subsequently sold off the stolen Bitcoins on the Mt Gox exchange between March to May 2013, which netted him a combined figure of $820,000 in cash.

When the net closes tightly around you, Shaun Bridges decided to admit all as part of a plea deal, he also admitted that during the investigation of Silk Road he had lied to investigators and also tried to obstruct them in their duties.

This is why government law enforcement is unable to take the moral high ground in cases like this. Yes, what Ross Ulbricht and co operated was illegal, but the actions of the former agent in question weren’t exactly saint like either. It’s difficult to convey the evils of this type of behaviour to would-be cyber criminals when the supposed “good side” have also been charged with theft.

A perfect summary of this case arrives courtesy of US Attorney Melinda Haag who Stated the following

“Mr. Bridges has now admitted that he brazenly stole $820,000 worth of digital currency while working as a U.S. Secret Service special agent, a move that completely violated the public’s trust. We depend on those in federal law enforcement having the highest integrity and unshakable honour, and Mr. Bridges has demonstrated that he utterly lacks those qualities.”   

A part of preventing crime is trust in those who defend the law-abiding, if trust is disappearing after scandal upon scandal, it’s difficult to regain it.

Thank you techworm for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of nextpowerup

Now You Can Buy Your Diamonds with Bitcoins

By now there really isn’t any question anymore whether Bitcoins are here to stay or not, with big companies and organisations such as Microsoft, NewEgg, Greenpeace, and Mozilla already accepting the virtual currency. The eRetailer iDIAMONDS has now announced that they’ll follow and accept Bitcoins for all diamonds and diamond jewelries in their shop.

Most of us know a little about diamonds from our Hollywood exposure, but when it comes down to everything, we don’t know much. There are millions of pages to read if you want to know everything, and that’s virtually impossible for most people. That is the reason iDIAMONDS was founded, to make it easier for the every-man to both shop diamonds as well as get just what they’re looking for. To further built on this, iDIAMONDS is now one of the first jewelry stores worldwide, if not the first, to accept Bitcoins and move the thousands of year old diamond market into the future.

Turn your untraceable virtual currency into virtually untraceable diamonds, yes I think this will be a both a hit and success for iDIAMONDS.

Thanks to iDIAMONDS for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of iDIAMONDS

Microsoft Now Supports Bitcoin Payments

Microsoft has very, very quietly announced it is now accepting Bitcoin payments through third-party payment processors such as BitPay. The company announced the digital currency being accepted on its blog, and entering it into its FAQ for billing and payment queries.

For a company as big as Microsoft stepping out, and while quietly, accepting Bitcoin, this is big. While only some content within the Windows Store, Xbox Games, Xbox Music and Xbox Video can be purchased using Bitcoin, it’s a big step. Right now, it’s limited to the US only, and there’s a $1,000 hard limit on how much money can be added to an account daily. But, as I said, this is a great first step toward better adoption of Bitcoin.

Bill Gates has previously said he supported the digital currency, saying “Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and of course for large transactions currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

Source: Gizmag.

Illegal Bitcoin Exchange Busted by French Police

The French police recently dismantled an illegal Bitcoin exchange website, marking the first time an illegal Bitcoin money exchange was targeted in Europe.

There were raids last week conducted in Cannes, Nice and Toulouse, along with a separate raid in Brussels, Belgium, with 388 bitcoins seized.

At least two suspects are currently being looked at for money laundering, illegal banking, and illegally running a gambling website – a worrying sign for regulators trying to figure out what to do with the popular cryptocurrency. A 27-year-old Tunisian and 36-year-old Frenchman are in custody and illegally sold bitcoins, conducting more than 2,750 transactions and exchanging at least 2,500 bitcoins.

Here is what Olivier Caracotch, Foix prosecutor, told Reuters:

“It’s the first time in Europe that a judicial action has resulted in the closure of an illegal exchange for virtual currency.  It’s also the first time in France that bitcoins have been seized as part of a judicial procedure.”

The illegal bitcoin exchange began to unravel after a retired police officer said he purchased bitcoins from the site.  The suspects did not receive approval by the French ACPR, responsible for overseeing the country’s financial sector.

National governments from the United States and Japan to European Union (EU) nations are worried about criminals using cryptocurrency to slip by money laundering charges.

Thank you to Reuters UK for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of PC Harbour

Bitcoin Supporters Hope to See EU Provide Regulatory Guidance of Cryptocurrencies

European Union countries need to make adjustments to outline regulatory guidance on bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, according to bitcoin supporters.

The European Commission recently noted that it plans to create virtual cryptocurrency rules as quickly as possible – there is a higher level of regulatory scrutiny of bitcoins, while governments are still unsure what to make of bitcoins.

Here is what Jeremy Allaire, head bitcoin consumer finance company Circle, recently said in an interview with Reuters:

“One of the challenges is that without clear guidance from the EU, from the UK, it will limit industry development.  Unless they have a clear view of where does this (bitcoin) fit, how do we know what the rules are?”

The United States, EU, and select Asian countries have struggled to try to deal with the rise of bitcoins, especially considering potential fraud problems.  If regulators become involved and create overly restrictive laws, however, it could curb bitcoin growth across the world, supporters worry.

Bitcoin value currently hovers around $630 (£367), though remains rather volatile as more consumers and businesses dabble with cryptocurrencies.  However, the European Banking Authority (EBA) could scare customers away by devising rules to clamp down on money laundering and criminal abuse.

Thank you to Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Huffington Post

California Gov. Brown Signs Bill Legalizing Bitcoin, Other Cryptocurrencies

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed bill AB 129 into law, which legalizes Bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrencies inside of California.

Legally, the State of California had legislation that didn’t make it legal to use “anything but the lawful money of the United States,” though this was something that supporters hoped to change.  Following Gov. Brown’s decision, it’s likely other states will follow later down the road, as Bitcoins continue to gain a larger support group.

In addition, a number of different retailers and companies welcome Bitcoin payments, saying it doesn’t make sense to turn down any form of currency customers are willing to pay with.

Here is what Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), California Assemblyman, previously said in a press release:

“In an era of evolving payment methods, from Amazon Coins to Starbucks Stars, it is impractical to ignore the growing use of cash alternatives.  This bill is intended to fine-tune current law to address Californians’ payment habits in the mobile and digital fields.”

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies cannot be classified as currency – but that hasn’t stopped investors and supporters from promoting their use.  Despite California – and other states showing interest in cryptocurrencies – it seems unlikely the federal government will show the same enthusiasm.

Thank you to Los Angeles Times for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of NY Post

Silk Road Bitcoin Buyers Identities Exposed Thanks to U.S. Marshal Error

The U.S. Marshals  handling the private bidding for the recently seized $18 million worth of Bitcoins have made an unfortunate showing in technological prowess, or lack thereof.

Mass emails are one of the easiest ways to contact multiple clients directly at once, thankfully for those who are handling sensitive and private information there is the ability to use the ‘BCC’ function to hide exactly whom you’re emailing to. That is unless you’re part of the U.S. Marshals office.

Today an email was sent out to all of their private bidders but with a twist – every bidder was included in a ‘CC’ list. For the technologically unaware, this means that every bidder is able to see to whom the email was sent to and therefore nulling the whole ‘anonymous bid’ type scenario, especially due to the fact that many of the users names are easily identifiable by their email address.

Now that the 40 bidders know each others identities, the email has been leaked onto the internet (with censored information).

Last fall the government seized and took ownership of 29,656.51306529 Bitcoins when it raided the well known black market website Silk Road (commonly used for illegal trade of firearms and drugs). Due to current market price, that means this stash is currently worth just over $18 million USD out of a $7.87 billion Market cap.

The reasoning behind these investors purchasing these coins as an all-in-one package comes down to changes in Bitcoin pricing and current market status. $18 million worth of Bitcoins accounts for approximately 85% of daily trading and if purchased in one solid block, all these coins can be bought at for one price rather than relying on numerous smaller transactions whereas the price is likely to fluctuate.

There hasn’t been any reported repercussions as of yet, but we’re waiting for reports on how many shady website signups come through practical jokes because of this. Did someone say Adult Match Maker?

First photo courtesy of

Email photo courtesy of TechCrunch

Expedia Accepts Bitcoins, as Some Retailers Remain Unsure

Popular travel site Expedia recently confirmed it will begin accepting bitcoins, giving customers the opportunity to book their next hotel visit with the digital currency.

Expedia customers booking accommodations will see bitcoin as a new payment option, and will be ushered to a unique payment site.  Transactions authorized directly from each customer’s bitcoin wallet, and Expedia will provide confirmation.

There is growing interest from companies willing to test bitcoins as long-term payment options, and are opening up communication to learn more from one another.

A growing number of restaurants and pubs also are dabbling with bitcoin, so it’s worth taking a look at your favourite eateries.  Popular online restaurant ordering service now accepts bitcoins from customers, if you are hungry and want to place orders over the Internet. U.S. satellite TV company Dish Network said it would accept bitcoin payment from subscribers, indicating a major change.

However Ink Factory, which first embraced bitcoins in November 2013, recently noted that bitcoin might not be the payment method of the future – but confirmed that the cryptocurrency is still only in its infancy.  The company isn’t throwing in the towel on bitcoin, and is giving away 1/10th of a bitcoin, currently valued around £41, so its customers can become more familiar with bitcoin and how to use it.

The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel accepts bitcoins at the front desk, restaurants, gift shop, and on the casino floor.  A bitcoin ATM machine was also rolled out, so casino visitors will be able to access their online wallets.

Retailers and other companies might accept bitcoin, but expect the turbulent cryptocurrency to also endure a long infancy from consumers.  If you’re a bitcoin supporter, then it’s willing to send an email, tweet, or message to your favourite retailers to learn more about any bitcoin plans they might have in the future.

Silk Road Pirate Accuses Government Of Stealing His Bitcoin Booty

Silk Road Mastermind Ross Ulbricht

Ross Ulbricht or better known by his silk road alias of “Dread Pirate Roberts” has accused the government of being the real pirates, by for the first time admitting the government took his 173,000 or so of his encrypted virtual currency. When he was first arrested in October for allegedly masterminding and running the illegal website known as Silk Road, he claimed that the “feds arrested the wrong guy’. Now Ross Ulbricht has filed legal papers in a Manhattan Federal Court claiming he has an interest as the owner of the 173,000 or so Bitcoins, which are worth around $33.6 million.

In a statement made by Ulbricht in December he claims that the virtual currency should be returned to him because Bitcoins are not subject to seizure by federal law. However Attorney Jeffery Alberts, who used to work and specialize in asset-forfeiture actions says that Ulbricht will have a difficult time proving his argument because usually anything of value can be seized in money laundering cases. With the Bitcoins in question being taken by the government as assets they will allege were used to facilitate money laundering in support of a host of crimes. These include six failed assassinations, the sale of cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs over the internet through the Silk Road website. With the virtual currency of Bitcoins only getting bigger this case will likely set a president for cases later on involving all types of virtual currency in regards to illicit activities and the profits from those activities.

Thanks you for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of  Google+.

Bitcoin Offers Accepted By A Vegas Developer Selling His $7.85 Million Mansion

A developer and casino owner based in Los Vegas is reportedly attempting to sell his 25,000 feet mansion at a $7.85 million and is willing to accept Bitcoin currency as well. The idea apparently comes from his two sons who currently are digital “miners” and deal with the aforementioned currency.

“The advantage is that we’re expanding our market and adding some notoriety,” said Jack Sommer, the developer and casino owner. However, Julian Tosh, a consultant and owner of the marketplace website stated in the “Las Vegas Review-Journal” that using the currency can streamline international business deals: “There are a bunch of people who have bitcoins, and they’re dying for a place to spend it”.

Craig Tann, Sommer’s sales agent, said that Sommer’s mansion would be the first home in southern Nevada tp be marketed formally around bitcoins. But there are also other businesses which accept the currency. For example, a California Lamborhini dealership sold a $103,000 Tesla for 91.4 bitcoins. Also, a Canadian citizen listed his Alberta home for an estimated 480 bitcoins ($405,000 in US dollars).

But there is also a downside to all of this. As Tosh points out, one bitcoin was valued at $10 in January and rose up to over $1,000 in the October-November timeline. However, Friday it was valued at $870, but Bank of America Merrill Lynch speculates the bitcoint to rise again to $1,300, therefore a transaction in bitcoins is very risky. You can win big or you can lose heavily.

Thank you TheStar for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TheStar

Two Bitcoin Mining Motherboards Introduced By BIOSTAR

For those interested in mining bitcons, take a look at BIOSTAR’s two motherboards dedicated for such operations. The company has two ATX motherboards that are perfect for setting up a Bitcoin mining machine. One is based on the Intel H81 chipset with an Intel socket 1150 board and the other is a H61B with a socket 1155 board, both having support for Intel 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Core i7/i5 and i3 CPUs.

For those who do not know, mining is the process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger of past transactions. This ledger of past transactions is called the block chain as it is a chain of blocks. The block chain serves to confirm transactions to the rest of the network as having taken place. Bitcoin nodes use the block chain to distinguish legitimate Bitcoin transactions from attempts to re-spend coins that have already been spent elsewhere. A “mining rig” is a computer system used for mining Bitcoins. It can be built specifically for mining or it could be your everyday computer for gaming and surfing, and is used to mine only on a part-time basis.

With the rising price of Bitcoins, now about $1000.00 USD for one Bitcoin, GPU mining can theoretically be profitable. What you need is a system that can do enormous amounts of mathematical calculations. The best way to do this is the GPUs in graphics cards. Motherboards with on-board graphics (also referred to as integrated graphics) are not as good as a dedicated GPU card. You should therefore choose a motherboard with multiple PCI slots to fit in 2, 3 or 4 high-powered graphics cards like the Radeon series from AMD.

To create a dedicated mining machine, getting a value oriented motherboard that you can load up graphics cards is the ideal strategy. BIOSTAR’s Hi-Fi H81 S2 and H61B with PCI-E Gen 3.0 are perfect choices. PCI-E 3.0 is the next evolution of the ubiquitous and general-purpose PCI Express I/O standard and is perfect for high-end AMD or NVIDIA graphics cards.

These boards will proudly show off BIOSTAR’s in-house technology, such as audio and power regulation upgrades such as Hi-Fi Power and Hi-Fi AMP. The video output includes HDMI with HDCP which allows full video & audio support via standard DVI output.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

Man Throws Away Hard Drive With More Than 7,500 Bitcoins Within

Bitcoin, the virtual currency that has gained plenty of attention in recent times, is back in the news, but with a rather unfortunate twist to it. It appears that one man who has spent a few years, since 2009 to be more precise, to mine more than 7,500 Bitcoins, might now be unable to receive a single cent for all his effort.

According to Ubergizmo via The Guardian, James Howells of Wales claimed that he threw away an unwanted hard drive which was first installed in a Dell notebook four years back, and that notebook’s main purpose was to mine Bitcoins. Three years ago, the notebook decided to give up the ghost, and while he took apart the machine for its parts, the hard drive remained in a drawer until he threw it away this summer without realizing the value of its contents.

Howells, unfortunately, has no backups available on any of his other drives or USB flash drives. Howells even made the trip to the landfill site located near Newport, Wales in order to look for at least $7.5 million worth of Bitcoins in his hard drive but to no avail. Poor fellow, we hope that he has a slice of fortune that would help turn the situation around.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

FBI Seizes Record 144,336 Bitcoins – Worth $28 Million

RT reports that the FBI have just made their biggest seizure of bitcoins to date, a staggering 144,336 worth an estimated $28 million at current market value. The FBI claim to have seized the “secret stash” of bitcoins belonging to the Silk Road online marketplace founder and owner. The bitcoins apparently belonged to “Dread Pirate Roberts”, which was Ross Ulbricht’s alias on the Silk Road marketplace. In the 2 years of Silk Road’s operation $1.2 billion is estimated to have been traded in bitcoin of which Silk Road charged between 8 and 15% commission.

It is claimed that despite the FBI having seized hundreds of thousands of bitcoins from shutting down the Silk Road operation it still cannot use those bitcoins. This is because the FBI currently lacks the password to the encrypted wallet needed to access them. Ulbricht’s $80 million of personal wealth in bitcoins thus remain inaccessible to the FBI, protecting the value and integrity of the currency from intervention by authorities (for the time being at least).

Image courtesy of George Frey/Getty Images/AFP

BitCoin Users Angry With FBI Seizure Of Silk Road Funds

Silk Road may have been taken online, but that doesn’t mean the sites users are just going to give up! Especially when hundreds of the sites customers have lost a combined total of $80 million in BitCoins as the FBI tries to gain access to the funds.

Pro-drug advocates, as well as many other users of the sites have been trolling the FBI as best they can via the site after Silk Road users identified the FBI’s wallet details, then used blockchain to post publicly visible messages along with tiny transactions.

Because they now have the FBI’s wallet details, users have been making tiny transactions of 0.00000001 Bitcoins, worth around around 1/1000p this allows them to leave a short message with their transaction and is providing them with a cheap way to voice their concerns at the agency.

“Take the drugs, take the domain, but don’t take the people’s Bitcoins. This seizure was only legal because Bitcoin is not recognized as a currency,” says one.

“The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs”.

“The musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were real f****** high on drugs,”

“The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.”

“Many items sold through Silk Road were perfectly legal, There is no way to know whether these funds were to be used for illicit purchases. Users should be allowed to withdraw their funds.”

With everything from Bill Hicks to Thomas Jefferson being quoted they likely thing they’re making a stand, but it seems there is little hope for the users given that the funds were used on an illegal site, with a still somewhat shaky digital currency.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Experts Reveal Criminal DIY Bitcoin Mining Tool

The Security Experts “Webroot” have revealed a subscription-based criminal DIY mining malware tool. Apparently they found this tool on a Cybercrime forum and the tool can be used to Bitcoin mine on malware infected PCs.

“The Bitcoin mining tool comes with a DIY generating tool, start up functionality, installation persistence, assembly changer, icon changer, support for both Bitcoin and Litecoin CPU/GPU, the ability to change the CPU/GPU threads, as well as the ability to adjust the GPU fan percentage”

People interested in using this can pay via non-traceable methods such as PayPal, Bitcoin, Teracoin or Litecoin. Cybercriminals can use this tool on malware infected PCs to generate profit. In fact the controls are so advanced that the cybercrimianls can set fan speeds and maximum temperatures on the victim’s PC.

There are currently so many “underground/criminal shops” selling access to hacked computers and exploitative software that Cybercriminals don’t even have to bother hacking people’s computers as someone else has already done the hard work for them.

I think the lesson of this story is clear; never underestimate the value being a cautious internet user, having a solid firewall, good anti-virus but most importantly using your common sense online. Keep an eye on your CPU/GPU usage too because the chances are if your system is always running at close to 100% then you could be a victim of this type of Bitcoin mining hijack malware that is becoming ever more prevalent in recent times.

Image courtesy of Webroot

Mt. Gox Bitcoin Exchange Stops US Dollar Withdrawals

Mt. Gox is currently the largest Bitcoin exchange on the internet but it has made a pretty big announcement recently in one of its press releases. Mt. Gox said it will be halting transactions involving US Dollars, but more specifically cash withdrawals involving US Dollars. This is because the situation is reportedly unstable at the moment as too many people are trying to withdraw. The investigation Mt. Gox are currently facing in the USA is causing panic and uncertainty to many hence the high level of withdrawals.

According to Mt. Gox the decision is purely based on volume – they cannot process this many US Dollar withdrawals at a time, it has nothing to do with not being able to actually process the transactions.

“This increased volume has made it difficult for our bank to process the transactions smoothly and within a timely manner, which has created unnecessary delays for our global customers. This is especially so for those in the United States who are requesting wire transfer withdrawals from their accounts”

The company has reassured customers that their funds are still totally safe and that they can continue to make US Dollar deposits as well as deposits and withdrawals in any other accepted currency. This means anyone needing their money quickly can withdraw it in another currency but at the risk of losing some due to currency conversion costs.

Image courtesy of Mt. Gox

New Skype Malware Uses Its Victim’s System To Mine Bitcoins

It is recently being found that there’s a new type of malware which is spread via Skype has been discovered. This works once the recipient clicks on a link that he receives via Skype. Once this is done, the malicious code installs a Bitcoin miner application on the victims’s system on behalf of the programmer to mine bitcoins.

Bitcoins are a digital currency which gained its popularity as it did not have a central issuer or a single authority, therefore was not possible to lock out a certain user or country out of the Bitcoin network. The best past is that it can be used to use it to pay for anything online and offline.

The mining operation is done by mining nodes that manage the Bitcoin network. The mining nodes use the system to find a solution to solve a difficult problem and rewards it in exchange for coins. The malware uses the computers’ processing power to do just that, but it do so without the end- user’ knowledge and the person who programmed it is the one getting all the profits. The end result is that due to the processing power Bitcoin mining operation requires, the victims’ systems slow down, even at times becoming unstable and/ or unusable.

Security company Kaspersky were the ones who have made the discovery of this malware program on Thursday night, and named it iTrojan.Win32.Jorik.IRCbot.xkt’. During that time, it was found that the victims originated from many European nations such as Italy, Russia, Poland, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany and Ukraine, with a surprising average clicking rate of about 2,000 per hour.

It is been found that the malware was initially download from a server in India. Many Anti-Malware programs failed to detect this malware at the time, therefore it was easier for the malware to spread very quickly. Once the end user’s system, it uses Hotfile to grab the bitcoins and connects to a server which is now believed to be in Germany and acts according to the instructions given by the programmer.

What’s the best fix? Prevention is better than cure. All you have to do is to resist the urge to click random links you get from other people via Skype. It should be noted that by doing so you’re reducing the chance of letting the malware spread to your contacts in Skype, therefore not allowing any systems of the people you know to be infected.

Source: The Next Web