How cybercriminals are exploiting Bitcoin and other virtual currencies

April 16, 2013  |  Jaime Blasco

- What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is an online decentralised virtual currency based on an open source, P2P protocol. Bitcoins can be transferred using a computer without relying on a financial institution.

If you haven’t heard about Bitcoin I recommend you watch the following video:

Both the Bitcoin creation and transfer is performed by computers called “miners” that confirm the bitcoin’s creation by adding the information to a decentralised database. Bitcoins get harder to generate all the time. There are more that 10 million bitcoins in circulation today. The Bitcoin design only lets the creation of 21 million and that limit will be reached during the year 2140.

The Bitcoin wallet is what gives you ownership of one or more Bitcoin addresses. You can use those addresses to send and receive coins from other users.

Due to the complexity of mining bitcoins if you mine on your own it may be a long time until you can make some return. Bitcoin pools are places where multiple users can work together to make bitcoins and share benefits in a fair way.

Finally, you can buy and sell bitcoins using several real-world currencies (EUR, USD ..) using several exchanges.

Threat Landscape

Due to the growing popularity of the Bitcoin, it has become an attractive and profitable target for cybercriminals. During the last few years, we have seen an increase in the number of attacks and threats involving the virtual currency. The bad guys have adapted their tools to steal bitcoins from victims, use compromised systems to mine bitcoins and obtain benefit from it. On the other hand, virtual exchanges are also victims and we have seen how the attackers have phished the users of those exchanges and how they have performed Denial of Service attacks to destabilize the exchange rate and profit.

Wallet stealing

During the last few years, the capability of stealing the wallet.dat file has been added to several malware families. In addition, new malware families have appeared with the objective of stealing the wallet file from the infected machines.

Bitcoin mining

Apart from stealing the Bitcoin wallet, the number of malware families that can use the victim’s computer power to mine Bitcoins is getting bigger and bigger.

We have found samples that install the Bitcoin daemon in the victim but the most frequently used technique is adding a piece of code that connects to a mining pool (public or private) to mine bitcoins.

You can find variants of very well known malware families such as Zeus/Zbot that added this capability. As an example, we found a Zeus variant more than a year ago that had installed the Bitcoin daemon to mine bitcoins using the infected systems. That specific variant was distributed using Fake e-mail messages containing a link to the malicious file.

Once the system got infected the Bitcoin client bitcoind was installed in the system. The Zeus variant was using a different configuration file from:


In the last few months several Dorkbot variants including one that was using Skype to spread added the capability of mining bitcoins.

Once the system gets compromised, a version of the Ufasoft Bitcoin miner is started. In this case, the attacker is running his own pooling server.

The Ufasoft software contacts the mining pool server via HTTP:

We have seen samples contacting the following servers that are owned by the same guys behind the botnet:





That infrastructure has been running for at least 5 months.

Another gang has been running several Bitcoin mining servers for more than a year now. They have used Dorkbot as well as other malicious software to infect systems and use their computer power to mine bitcoins. Following is the list of malicious servers they have been using:

















We have found instances where the malicious actors are also mining Litecoins that is another virtual currency similar to Bitcoin.

During the analysis of one of the malicious servers that was used to compromise users we found a GUI application that the attackers are using to build “Silent Miners” that are basically processes that run on the background, connect to the server pool that you configure and mine Litecoins/Bitcoins for you.

The program will generate an executable file prepared to run in the background. It makes it very easy for the attackers to include or distribute the executable in the botnets they are already running.

Apart from the infrastructure we have unveiled, we have found many different malwares with Bitcoin mining capabilities in the last few weeks. Some of them are distributed as fake software in P2P networks, using malicious web redirects (Blackhole Exploit Kit), Fake AV’s, etc.

A lot of them also use public mining pools that are also used by regular users to mine bitcoins. Following is a list of malicious binaries we have found as well as the pool server and username they use:

Hash Server Username
b21183ebee87ea86acd11e25a3a3b0d1 tromm.5
7fdf03f888932a384b0089d391f01b2e 1663o1jPydX5fgTNsAW33owbsyC1gpwbvn
544b1a3b310ebb9dc9a9d3858c8c7fe4 169TpR47JVcLaQXdGYE6Lv4Ps9DbVqHhSi
9b7a5ab5e06c46b88e3182457b1e9a0f 17F8N9AvEWSWRMgfR2WncDxhHCm2zLMgST
6ba659c9f3de5b5d45a77b12c5ca1e7b 17VJ4nebUbfBoydRC7vLynQruXyqMCDY1W
e26686c56297f259e936454e4ea3f7ae 17VJ4nebUbfBoydRC7vLynQruXyqMCDY1W
ae1350e85fb01777d6b5f93384f23bdc 8337 1ASNjJjUou6RPkmP81nJUuhbZDkxAaHQhX
d770554455a70f3a3ad8e3326ddca765 1ASNjJjUou6RPkmP81nJUuhbZDkxAaHQhX
d911d82dc184bbfc952b77cb4cb1b743 1ASNjJjUou6RPkmP81nJUuhbZDkxAaHQhX
2f0312e6c46cd6e045f3be88e16ecb74 1Dt8Ai9uNhupwxejr8PN631XTpbECTfQ2y
e64d98da86cf03ff6088b48612870f83 1Dt8Ai9uNhupwxejr8PN631XTpbECTfQ2y
20d5c788a075113145261ee5dfab0fa0 1ES11Ke5mxgz9MYiJ2Pb1MgY2FFYnfs5fA
500d53fbf363ce31d75447a7ac335516 1ES11Ke5mxgz9MYiJ2Pb1MgY2FFYnfs5fA
e61b38b75d1cfefe9f631231666a9211 1H1xa5PV522hUKfBqvfXPqu7buS5q9ckiW
1a155713d6ff01a3e949730d6fe868d9 1HH1Geovwhxq2UnNt6tiscF2kMsxYEVCRM
d726542997e8aaca1c8c2809cc859f04 1Hy8HbYrLPrXhGko2SmkUtMjBvBpVDEeMh
974b155cef5cb549dcd81b62d26a7d7e 1Kjvxd9CbnYbigcC13gS5VAd2asNcdVSyH
9384cb2d2b69d4023dbe2260b789c509 1KyxrBp8mJRt3U6Q12LfuNLonZ9JHLYnbM
9f878f2f555e690d447060bff7856dac 1NqV1Dy7jH4SLXgbihQDRYA9qKgqnSfaVJ
bfe45e910c94c49e63e969cc2dd8c806 1PyoNmwdNP7PQWQwjCLiK8Av5V9eAGhKcL:x
bb0449dcb53723f6cb58d7024c16f887 1Q3TM64corp7BCYY98pa88w9RoZSfxrH8
9a48fe740b8feff35b1dbc07ab99d949 1qGYbXUe48RjdAoHuRhs4vvm118XMY6e3
35c3c3506064dbad08ba3a8a1ccd742b 2thread
e32caa62ef6e67e82c2b95c3b2b66db4 8r9di23217.97123y92
13052239a6a852a4eee3febe10268e25 appap.6
6111ebdfcf7c58c953271dcbd594a417 aspen.4
1c5458ed87729b711310b6f0baf270bf blackweader@hotmail.com_dodi
5271a38bd18c8ad51d5e3b158db11b38 Bool_Bool
49d8ce6f361cc87f85fe12f4df73bda5 cartoon1996_hm9gjp
815ccc9f6a48cab368e41647c8f81722 cartoon1996_server
0eece32d0d55449366eae4462a4781c7 comp_pony
cc3dc3b176bbc34444117057659e9e14 cviper_1
20c05310dc8bb6dd2cf0e4c642e475a1 epix6_datacenter1
4decdf42f9eaf230768220edb361a0e0 epix6_datacenter1
8c5fd67f62fbccf02f8e0e306341713d epix6_datacenter1
44ab7103e31a41b53401cedcabf9de6f happyworld_3
b08ef6df987e03e86cc9af30942e8fd2 happyworld_3
2d150ca060ed2d89ff031c0060275c99 happyworld3000.1
135cbc204145e63f7af441fff85f4ec7 i0nn@mail.ru_4
854387049a16de49fc6a02655c38c4eb IamX_Worker1
4b8ad799881c4a79a32ea2a6576a8037 JennyEsta_666fuckerhead
ff925fbce01271e6a033febc27703762 jowsie_cheap2
add443fe32e35fb4a46e35ed2052b6f6 koji35.3
4d4fa3c12eb5f77529e08bb9873e54e1 lezoum2010_pocket
3f5589b0c8fc9b049e5fde81a642db6c loadrs2009_1
1fc06c8cdcbcff1fd5ecf07ded4bed93 m1nd_jorgee
ae08c3c4ab1e43ce8201b572b0b45115 madhav007_pudge007
47d21779b4e1d7195ae3eceafa1b163d MinerG_0
ae03b006bb3eb6dcb2a64e3533862367 MinerG_17
c3f67b7b4d3d5152757fd71bca6fbbfe MinerG_18
202dfdf0ced47d213e833d8a92012d90 MinerG_26
0ed23a28270a27e5a4332ae521ee70b8 MinerG_34
3e348e07f5d98929baa0cb88f00cd8cf MinerG_7
eb375ba9447d20401ee17192c2f9010d MinerG_8
c1d4410b41ed7f534457f077370067a6 moi_worker
20c258e021449365a42f9b2fc7d0d4c8 Mystical_pike
2164bd712071628549a25f5eb97a5f35 N785O1c_3cxQO9S
2bab5ce7b48baea90b11244278bd6d57 o2521666_1
b7752d762c5a9ac883caaefd1cc19c1b pr3m1era_Bossnigger
8f4ad4c95adef240f8edb5f3da09f164 shrooms_mining
da99275413845905166e8470980a155f Sisocviper_siso
7f1ef23a0076cedaeec0b7bb55b9702d smackos_aliens
1f85e27b2bd33c4d0ca377ad696fa563 SSnack_worker
bbfe230a8471e2b5d807df3368836bce Strick3n_stricken
0b04c1538e5f3a37a81ec2086810b8e1 svintaz@mail.ru_7
b51128a0d8626a9b36f25679854d137e tester20122_3
43cc15d6178c0fa7845fe257a58f5e0b tophosts.1
9425c6b7654e8e9ceba5894862e28970 tromm.14
865341e5ae9e6fd01eca8e6bb31b4e5d vapor_worker
c24700038e25f4ed1aea01bc374ed5a1 victory2egy@yahoo.com_v

Show me the money

As you can see in the previous table some of the bad guys were using Bitcoin addresses instead of usernames to connect to the pool servers.

Due to the openness of the Bitcoin’s protocol, we can access the information and the transactions done by those accounts.

169TpR47JVcLaQXdGYE6Lv4Ps9DbVqHhSi, 91.39938806 BTC ,$ 8,317.34

17F8N9AvEWSWRMgfR2WncDxhHCm2zLMgST, 20.89356766 BTC , $ 1,901.31

1ASNjJjUou6RPkmP81nJUuhbZDkxAaHQhX, 420.81569559 BTC, $ 38,294.23

1H1xa5PV522hUKfBqvfXPqu7buS5q9ckiW, 31.00274179 BTC , $ 2,821.25

1Kjvxd9CbnYbigcC13gS5VAd2asNcdVSyH, 88.99839055 BTC , $ 8,098.85

1KyxrBp8mJRt3U6Q12LfuNLonZ9JHLYnbM, 77.55520657 BTC , $ 7,057.52

1Q3TM64corp7BCYY98pa88w9RoZSfxrH8, 48.69058357 BTC , $ 4,430.84

For instance, we can see these two Bitcoin addresses probably belong to the same bad actors:



Those two accounts sent most of the money to the following account:


That Bitcoin address received a total amount of 1050.21 BTC in the last few months. If the bad guys sold that amount of bitcoins some days ago when a single Bitcoin was worth $265 they could have made $278k. Not bad for a small Botnet!

MtGox Fake sites

Mtgox is the largest Bitcoin exchange where you can trade Bitcoins for EUR/US, etc. In the last few weeks, the increased popularity of both Bitcoin and Mtgox has made it an attractive target for attackers.

Last week, we detected several websites that were attempting to target Mtgox users. An attacker set up the fake website www[.]mtgox-chat[.]info:

Captura de pantalla 2013-04-16 a la(s) 11.23.18

The malicious server looks like an official Mtgox website with a chat on it. Once the user enters the site it will try to load a malicious Java applet:

Captura de pantalla 2013-04-16 a la(s) 11.26.30

The Java applet will download and execute a binary file from a remote site.

Once the file is executed the victim gets infected and the system will contact the C&C server on:


Having access to the victim’s system the attacker can now get the Mtgox’s credentials and steal the money/bitcoins from the victim.

Impact on the enterprise

The detection of mining software in your network could indicate either a misuse of resources by your employees or an infection that could lead to financial losses.

The following best practices will help you prevent these threats:

- Keep software up to date

- Update your Antivirus signatures

- Run a Vulnerability Assessment Program

- Monitor your networks to detect suspicious network behaviors.

AlienVault Unified Security Management (USM) will detect all the threats mentioned on the blog post:

Captura de pantalla 2013-04-16 a la(s) 13.15.05

Captura de pantalla 2013-04-16 a la(s) 13.15.32

If you want to increase your network visibility you can try our Unified Security Management solution or download the Open Source version.

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