It’s becoming more and more commonplace these days to see hackers going after Bitcoin. The cybercurrency has been trending lately, and it’s becoming accepted as payment with more and more businesses. The interesting fact is that Bitcoin value is still very volatile – going from less than $100 per Bitcoin in 2013 to over $1000 in early 2014.
This time, the hacker took over a mining pool – redirecting the mining efforts covertly to his own “spoofed” servers so the miners would reap none of the rewards of mining. The hacking activity was reported by Dell SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) research team in a blog post. They stated that they found an entity “hijacking networks belonging to Amazon, Digital Ocean, OVH, and other large hosting companies between February and May 2014.”
Mining for a bitcoin involves using CPU computer power to attempt to find a block of data that is cryptologically sound as a currency, in this case Bitcoin. Basically the computer is crunching numbers constantly until it finds a solution. There are actually a finite amount of Bitcoins out there, and as Bitcoins are found on a daily basis, it gets harder and harder to find new ones.
In order to increase computing power, miners will join pools and add their computer to a “hive mind” that will then divide up the proceeds of the pool to all members. In the case where the hacker made off with the Bitcoin in this crime spree, he (or she) redirected the pool’s data stream to a fake server, collecting the profits of the miners in the process.
The suspicious activity was reported on bitcointalk.org’s forums, by a user named “caution”. The attack was then flushed out and resolved. Although these types of attacks are considered a minor threat because nearly 2.6 million dollars in Bitcoin are mined each day, it’s something for network admins to keep in mind.