The 2 Things You Need To Know About Botnet Mining

by Avramis Despotis     Jul 16, 2019

With the rise of Bitcoin, it was to be expected that eventually people with bad intentions would get involved in the game. One of the big parts of blockchain technology is the idea that it’s neigh impenetrable and almost impossible to hack, which is largely true. Of course there are exceptions and those exceptions can be the key to profiting or losing money, as is standard trading 101 knowledge. Since it’s become largely unfeasible to target the currencies themselves, hackers have gotten smarter and have found new approaches to profiting off the unprotected and uninformed.

As is common cryptocurrency trading 101 knowhow by now, new currency tokens are created through a process called mining wherein computers are tasked with solving extremely complex mathematical problems. The successful solving of such a problem is rewarded with currency tokens. Whole businesses have sprung up around the idea of mining cryptocurrency.

The equipment needed to mine cryptocurrency is expensive to purchase and even more expensive to maintain. What hackers are doing is using Botnets instead. Let’s look at what you need to know as a trader or investor.

  • 1) What Is A Botnet?

Botnets are networks of computers infected with a virus, which in this case allows the hackers to hijack a computer’s (or other devices) computing power to mine more cryptocurrency tokens. Computers, phones and other devices all get infected the same way you would catch a regular virus or other malware on the internet. A lot of malware is designed to destroy a computer or steal some sort of data for nefarious purposes. In this case, the virus is running a program in the background to mine for cryptocurrency with the device owners being unaware.

Instead of stealing data or breaking a computer, mining botnets are using the processing powers, internet bandwidth and electricity of an infected device, which in some cases can be argued as more harmful than just erasing someone’s data.

Hackers are likely to target devices whose owners wouldn’t even notice the mining program running. Bitcoin mining is resource intensive for computers so a regular user would quickly notice that their computer is under constant load, heating up or is generally underperforming. To avoid this, hackers are targeting company server networks or other large networks of servers and computers that run for 24 hours a day.

  • 2) How Bad Is It?

The biggest instance that we’re aware of when it comes to Botnet mining is the Smominru Miner Botnet. This botnet has been around since middle of 2017 and has successfully mined over $3m of Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency tokens (around 9,000 tokens in total).

Security researchers and experts estimated that over half a million devices were involved in the Botnet mining. A majority of the devices are believed to have been servers, which makes a lot of sense given the lower likelihood for a background program to be noticed on a server.

The Smominru botnet seems to have its main nodes coming out of the typical countries you’d expect a hacker to place their nodes in – Russia, Taiwan, India being the main homes to the Smominru botnet. An effort to block the nodes controlling the Botnet lost the hackers around 30% of their Botnet and its processing powers, which they immediately set out to rectify by setting up new nodes to infect more devices.

The main reason why XMR seems to be the favored currency for botnet miners is the vast anonymity and security that XMR provides. This makes tracking down the hackers neigh impossible, as it involves tracking where the newly minted tokens are being sent to and being spent on. Take this as a reminder to have good anti-malware software for your personal devices as well as your company servers.

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