Cyber thieves blamed for Bitcoin heist: researchers

Feb 24, 2014

A gang of cyber criminals using an army of infected computers made off with at least $220,000 worth of Bitcoins and other virtual currencies, security researchers said Monday.

The researchers from the security firm Trustwave said the heist was accomplished by a botnet of computers using malware that has been dubbed "Pony".

The Pony botnet has infected an estimated 700,000 people or computers, allowing the criminals to control those accounts.

The scheme "collected approximately $220,000 worth, at time of writing, of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, LiteCoin, FeatherCoin and 27 others," said a blog post from researchers Daniel Chechik and Anat Davidi.

"According to our data, the cyber gang that was operating this Pony botnet was active between September 2013 and mid-January 2014."

The botnet stole 600,000 website login credentials, 100,000 email account credentials and other secure account information.

The news comes amid growing use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoins, which have been developed by cryptographic experts as a way to move money at a lower costs than traditional finance systems.

While many uses of Bitcoins are legitimate, the virtual currencies have also been tied to money laundering and drug trafficking as well as underground websites such as Silk Road, the target of a US raid.

Earlier this month, the operators of what was purported to be a revived Silk Road website claimed the site was the victim of an attack which wiped out $2.7 million stored by the bazaar.

"Bitcoins are stored in virtual wallets, which are essentially pairs of private and public keys," the Trustwave researchers said, adding that whoever has those keys can take the currency.

"Stealing Bitcoins and exchanging them for another currency, even a regulated one such as US dollars, is much easier than stealing money from a bank."

They said that cyber thieves with Bitcoins can use any number of trading websites, to get real cash while maintaining anonymity.

Trustwave said the same malware was used last year to steal login information from more than 650,000 accounts including on Facebook, Yahoo and Google.

Explore further: Bitcoin supporters defend cyber currency at US Senate

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bitcoin rises above $1,000

Nov 27, 2013

The virtual currency bitcoin Wednesday broke above $1,000 per unit, quintupling in a month, according to Mt. Gox, which manages trading in bitcoin.

Malware on Yahoo ads turned user PCs into bitcoin miners

Jan 10, 2014

(Phys.org) —Yahoo, has acknowledged that its service sites were used by hackers to enslave massive numbers of ordinary PCs who did so to generate bitcoins, and by extension, real earnings. Ads were placed ...

China online marketplace Taobao to ban Bitcoins

Jan 08, 2014

China's largest online marketplace, Alibaba Group's Taobao, said Wednesday that it would ban the trading of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies from January 14, after a government crackdown on the units.

Recommended for you

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

Apr 18, 2014

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

Apr 18, 2014

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

Apr 18, 2014

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.