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Malware Mines Bitcoins on Skype

A new Skype-based malware is hijacking PCs and forcing them to mine Bitcoins. Though it sounds like something out of a science fiction it’s a serious problem that’s racking up 2,000 clicks an hour across the globe.

The malware, which has been labelled Trojan.Win32.Jorik.IRCbot.xkt, was discovered this week by Kaspersky, a US-based anti-virus firm and has shown up on computers worldwide.

Once infected, machines are turned in Bitcoin nodes and used to solve complicated math problems that unlock Bitcoins. Bitcoin mining pulls a lot of CPU’s, which can cause the infect PCs to crash or die altogether.

Given the skyrocketing value of Bitcoins, this kind of fraud isn’t particularly surprising. Over the past month the value of a single Bitcoin has nearly tripled and peaked at $149 (USD) this week. Currently they’re trading at around $117 and that’s up from just $13.50 in January.

Bitcoin prices swing wildly over time, but the current run on them is unprecedented.

Theories on what’s behind the Bitcoin boom include:

  • The growing acceptance of digital currency by mainstream businesses like WordPress.
  • Increasing mistrust of traditional currencies brought on by the global banking crisis.
  • Currency speculators driving a bubble market that’s certain to pop.

Of course none of this matters to cyber criminals. As long as Bitcoin mining malware is profitable, they’ll keep pushing it out.

Do you have any experience with Bitcoins? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below.