Kaspersky Lab, an antivirus company, discovered malware last week that is transmitted through Skype. The malware takes control of your computer, then forces it to carry out what is called bitcoin mining, which consists of making your CPU solve the cryptographic algorithms that the currency is based on, thus benefitting the hackers that use other people’s computers to carry out said practice without the owners finding out.
Perhaps the fact that criminals are taking control of personal computers and turning them into the so-called “Bitcoin mines” is an indicator that an economic bubble is being created around the virtual Bitcoin currency, whose value has increased 10 fold in the last year.
The digital monetary system known as Bitcoin rewards these “miners” for their mathematical work, which is essential to keeping the anonymous monetary system working. With this trojan, hackers are forcing their victim’s computers to fill their own pockets, and at the same time seriously affecting the computers’ performance, as the process of creating Bitcoins requires almost complete use of the CPU because it is based on creating complicated mathematical algorithms.
The trojan was found housed in an image spreading across Skype, with the classic message that reads, “You’re going to love this photo!” Almost 200 people per hour clicked on the rejuvenated scam. Dmitry Bestuzhev (one of the researchers at Kaspersky Lab) said via his blog and Twitter account that the majority of the victims were connected from Italy, Russia, Costa Rica, Spain, or Germany, among others. Once the trojan is downloaded after opening the attached image, the hackers practically have total control over the infected computer, and even though its main purpose is to generate Bitcoins, Kaspersky Lab has warned that it could do more than that.
This isn’t the first time that a trojan of this kind has appeared. Two years ago, Symantec discovered a trojan called Badminer that used the processor on your computer’s graphics card to generate Bitcoins.
One computer on its own isn’t capable of generating a lot of money, but if we consider how much each of these infected computers has been generating per hour in recent days, the little that each computer makes, these “miners” could have stolen a good amount.