There are two topics that I am going to talk about in this article today. One of the topics is Zombie servers and botnets. And the other topic that I am going to talk about is Bitcoin. I will then at the end of this article show how these two are being used together to make some of the black hat hackers out there a lot of money. In this day and age of hacks on the internet, it is not about having the most ingenious hack and getting your name out in the public like it used to be. No, these days it is all about the hacker being able to make some money. It has gotten so bad that there is now a lot of organized crime elements in the black hat hacker community.
When you think about cyber attacks these days you have to think about the bigger picture. You must realize that cyber crooks are going to use any of the tricks that they have available to be able to try and get money from you. This is why you have to be vigilant when you are surfing the web on your computer. Anything that might seem to be innocent, there is a good chance that it is not. So make sure you check before you click the link.
What is a Zombie server?
Usually when we talk about a zombie server we are talking about a computer that has been taken over by someone else through a remote connection. This happens all of the time and the innocent people do not know about it. They continue their day using their computer while at the same time there is someone else using it as well.
When computer researchers look into zombie computers they find that the systems are being used as part of a gigantic botnet. So now you might be asking what a botnet is. A botnet is a network of zombie computers that are being controlled by a single entity remotely. Instead of this person just having one zombie computer he probably has thousands. They put these computers all together so that they can do different things like create a DDOS attack on another web site or send spam to a bunch of different peoples’ email accounts. But this time, some of the black hat programmers out there have figured out that they can do more with a botnet than just the usual criminal activities. They can use a botnet to be able to mine the new technology called Bitcoins.
What is a Bitcoin?
A Bitcoin is a new technology that several people put together that allows you to have a new form of currency online. This form of currency is supposed to be anonymous and not connected to any one country.
It works through a peer to peer technology that allows people to verify when a purchase has been made and some of the Bitcoins have been transferred. The person then collects the Bitcoin currency in their program on their computer. At some later point they can go to one of the many Bitcoin exchanges that are out there and transfer it to their desired normal currency. Usually the transfer is to the United States backed USD but there are exchanges where you can get your physical money in a different currency as well. This Bitcoin technology has been in use for the past two years but only recently has it started to explode in popularity. And with this new found popularity the bad guys are starting to take notice as well.
Bad guys mining
In a previous article I wrote about the bad guys using the Bitcoin technology to be able to pay for their services without anyone knowing about it. This time they are taking it one step further and using their botnets to become miners for Bitcoins. Since Bitcoins have no real official backing, the person who created them thought of a clever way to be able to mine for Bitcoins. This way the currency would not become inflated. It works the same way as the gold market works. But instead of digging in physical dirt, you dig with your computer. The longer that Bitcoins are around the harder it becomes to find them when you are “digging”. The digging is really just the computer solving mini puzzles. It is these puzzles which become harder over time. To be able to solve these puzzles more efficiently, you need more and more computing power. That is what the black hat hackers are using the botnet for; more computing power.
When you are using your computer you have to be aware that some people that are outside of your vision see it as a potential profit center. Whether it is spam, a virus, or making it a zombie computer, they see that taking over your system can make them money. So this is why you have to always make sure that your system is protected.