Bitcoin Botnet Aims to Makes Money From Brainy Devices

Numerai were previously suggesting payouts ter virtual currency Bitcoin (pictured), but more recently the hedge fund launched its own token, Numeraire (NMR). REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Hackers may be hijacking internet-connected fridges, toasters and light bulbs te order to use their computing power to mine bitcoins, researchers have exposed.

IBM researchers discovered a bitcoin mining component ter a fresh variant of Mirai—a form of malware that exploits security vulnerabilities to take control of devices connected to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).

Security rock-hard McAfee recently estimated that more than Two.Five million IoT devices were infected by the Mirai botnet ter 2016, however it is not clear how many compromised devices may have bot used to mine the virtual currency.

“We do not have any insight into whether or not bitcoins were actually mined during thesis attacks,” Dave McMillen, a senior threat researcher at IBM, tells Newsweek. “It is also not known whether or not this is the deeds of one group or many… This Mirai variant could be appealing to others te the future due to the potentially large volume of devices that could be involved.”

Graphic shows the security risks the Internet of Things faces, and how hackers can launch a DDoS attack. Reuters Graphics

Security experts have previously warned that hackers could target wise devices te order to mine bitcoin. Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure prophesied ter 2014 that cryptocurrencies suggested a fresh method for criminals to profit from vulnerable devices.

“Attacks don’t target the user but the pc itself,” Hypponen said. “Internet of Things devices can be hacked to mine cryptocurrencies and make money.”

Mining bitcoin—the process of confirming bitcoin transactions and adding their record to bitcoin’s public ledger te order to generate fresh units of the currency—requires vast amounts of computing power. It would therefore require a yam-sized network of IoT devices te order to have a successful mining operation.

Details of the Mirai variant were published by the IBM researchers ter an online blog, ter which they speculated hackers would be incentivized to mine for bitcoin ter order to facilitate cybercriminal activities.

Experts warn that massive cyberattacks that knocked websites like Twitter and Reddit offline te October may be a precursor to a “cyber atomic bomb.” Creative Commons/ Composite

According to a 2016 investigate by the security rigid BullGuard, up to 185 million devices may be at risk of being compromised by Mirai. Hackers used the network of compromised devices ter a series of attacks that caused several major websites to go offline, including Netflix, Reddit and Twitter.

Projections from technology research hard Gartner suggest the kwestie may escalate if security fixes are not implemented by device manufacturers. According to Gartner, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices by 2020, while estimates from ABI Research waterput the figure closer to 30 billion. Cybersecurity experts warn that too many manufacturers treat security spil an afterthought when producing internet-enabled devices.

Chris Boyd, an analyst at the security stiff Malwarebytes, told Newsweek ter an vraaggesprek last year: “The problem here is that many IoT devices are horribly violated security-wise because it costs money to ensure a reasonable standard of protection on a product.”

This lax treatment will inevitably lead to much more devastating attacks, according to cybersecurity veteran John McAfee.

“The attacks are leisurely escalating, similar to the way America developed the atomic bomb,” McAfee, who created the eponymous antivirus rekentuig software but is now longer connected to it, said te October. “Clearly there are weaknesses. Anticipate that thesis will be exploited te a big way.”

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