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Bitcoin Botnet Crime Security The Almighty Buck

Sinkhole Sucks Brains From Wasteful Bitcoin Mining Botnet 203

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the so-that's-why-the-computer-lit-on-fire dept.
judgecorp writes "A sinkhole has taken a quarter of the bots out of the ZeroAcess botnet which was making money for its operators through click fraud and Bitcoin mining. This particular Bitcoin mining operation was only profitable through the use of stolen electricity — according to Symantec, which operated the sinkhole, ZeroAccess was using $561,000 of electricity a day on infected PCs, to generate about $2000 worth of Bitcoin."
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Sinkhole Sucks Brains From Wasteful Bitcoin Mining Botnet

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  • RoI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @05:14AM (#45000099)

    " ZeroAccess was using $561,000 of electricity a day on infected PCs, to generate about $2000 worth of Bitcoin/"

    Just as with government spending, the important the RoI must take into account the origin of each money input.

    i.e.: The $2,000 must not be compared to the $561,000, but to the cost of developing/acquiring the botnet.

    • Re:RoI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Vintermann (400722) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @05:30AM (#45000165) Homepage

      It would if we were interested in the botnet owner' profit margin. However, we're more interested in what costs the botnet owner impose on society in comparison to his private gains. Someone who would smash a $1000 computer to gain $1000 for himself is deemed less contemptible than the one would do it for $1 for himself.

      • Re:RoI (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @06:10AM (#45000351)

        It would if we were interested in the botnet owner' profit margin. However, we're more interested in what costs the botnet owner impose on society in comparison to his private gains. Someone who would smash a $1000 computer to gain $1000 for himself is deemed less contemptible than the one would do it for $1 for himself.

        I'm not sure about that. There was an article in a local paper about someone who did £1,000 worth of damage breaking into a soft-top sports car to steal a pack of biscuits on the seat. The general consensus was that he was a loser and a moron but he got a lower fine than someone stealing £1,000 worth of goods woula have done.

        • Personally I liken these muppets to the idiots who steal Henry Moore sculptures and melt them down for scrap!
          • One likens such thieves to the Biblical Philistines.

            The account is that the Israelites received Divine Punishment For Something that the Ark of the Covenant was captured by their enemy, the Philistines.

            Now the Ark didn't do much good for the Philistines either. I guess they took it as a war trophy or because it was kewl, but they didn't believe in the religion behind the Ark so their possession of it was a sacrilege. In the Hollywood movie, the Ark melted the faces of the Nazis, who coveted the Ark bu

          • by cellocgw (617879)

            Personally I liken these muppets to the idiots who steal Henry Moore sculptures and melt them down for scrap!

            Oh, I thought those people were called "Folks with good taste." :-)

        • People who steal food aren't viewed so terribly. Most can kinda empathize with that, if not condone it. If that guy had stolen a CD or something, I bet it wouldn't he would have been punished much more harshly.

          If I can reference fiction: Even Jean Valjean was sent to prison because he broke the window, not for stealing the bread.
        • I'm not sure about that. There was an article in a local paper about someone who did £1,000 worth of damage breaking into a soft-top sports car to steal a pack of biscuits on the seat. The general consensus was that he was a loser and a moron but he got a lower fine than someone stealing £1,000 worth of goods woula have done.

          Personally I think he should be punished ten times harder.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Someone who would smash a $1000 computer to gain $1000 for himself is deemed less contemptible than the one would do it for $1 for himself.

        I don't see why that is. You're still costing someone $1000, theft, fraud, whatever you like to call it. What the thief makes in end effect should be irrelevant. It's not like Bernie Madoff is a better guy because he got away with only a fraction of what his pyramid scheme stole.

        • Get little overexcited pressing that elevator button too hard and you can cause property damage that may end up costing the owner hundreds of dollars in repairs.
          You may not have had that intention but they got you on camera and they're gonna sue.

          On the other hand, if they got you on camera stealing money or goods of the same nominal value - they'll just call the cops on your ass.
          Cause it's a completely different situation.

          People tend not to accidentally steal other people's property.
          But people tend to want

          • Bad example. Unless you can prove I pushed the button in a way that would not be considered normal, you have no case. Public buttons are expected to wear out and be replaced.
      • by xelah (176252)
        If you believe Bitcoins to be a Jolly Good Thing, you could also consider the benefits imposed on society and not just his private gains. Central banks spend more on creating some forms of cash than they're worth, but it may still be socially useful because the benefit to the whole economy is all of the economic activity enabled by having a means of exchange etc., and not its face value. It'd have to be rather astonishing to reach $561,000, though - not to mention that theft needs to be discouraged and puni
    • by kieran (20691)

      No, the $561,000 should be compared to the cost of smashing the botnet. What the botnet arseholes make is of purely idle interest.

    • Re:RoI (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @09:02AM (#45001421) Journal

      This is a good illustration about how wealth transfer works, though. Each economic activity has a cost. Economic activities which are rent-seeking--which draw increased revenue without increasing actual value--are damaging in this way. Economic waste is also damaging in this way.

      This is why, for example, overpricing the market by artificially limiting supply (labor i.e. electricians and plumbers, goods i.e. diamonds, etc.) makes some people rich but has a disproportionate cost--the profiteers gain $100,000, but the net economic impact is $150,000 or so, and so the economy is $50,000 less wealthy but these folks don't care because they're $100,000 more wealthy and fuck everyone else.

      This is also how churn of goods works. Tearing down a bridge that needs $1M of work to remain viable for 10 years to instead rebuild a $100M bridge in its place doesn't make the economy stronger; it temporarily creates jobs at the expense of whoever's paying for the bridge (usually taxpayers), who end up poorer, thus don't spend as much in their local economy or in the wider (national, global) market, weakening the economy overall by reducing its ability to respond to new opportunities and instead diverting money to bridge builders.

      Also like the bridge, buying a new iPhone every 3 months--a more personal decision, but one with the same impact, and one that's not "DEH GUBERMENT SHUDNT BE SO SOZIALIST!" Yes, we can have that same socialist wealth destruction in a completely capitalist free market by people being idiots. On the other hand, handing down that iPhone to someone who has less money and will get it free or at a discount will keep the wealth in society. That's why I encourage people to donate their old goods to i.e. Good Will or such, rather than trashing them. Those things still useful retain value, and passing them on at steep discount to those who cannot afford such goods will enrich society by retaining wealth that would otherwise be lost to landfilling or re-processing (recycling, etc., investing more labor) perfectly useful goods.

      In this case, a lot of folks are poorer and a lot of resources are wasted; but power companies are a good deal richer, and the botnet operators have more money. Society is poorer, a few players are richer. The botnet operators are as a small boy who walks through the town periodically breaking random windows so that the glazier can retain his job... and he's coming to break your window, at $50 a pane to replace.

      • by Zencyde (850968)
        You get it, I see. Why aren't you in a power of decision making?
        • Because, while I'm manipulative, I am not intentionally deceptive. You'd be surprised what you can get away with when people trust you; it's a valuable tool, and difficult to maintain. Being open and keeping those around you satisfied allows you to work against their direct interests in many cases, and especially to get them to accept risks they are typically uncomfortable with. Deception isn't a skill I ever learned; I control information by controlling relevance and then omitting what is justifiable to
          • by Zencyde (850968)
            That still doesn't answer my question. Why hasn't someone put you into a position of authority? Is it because you're not deceptive enough?
            • Do you really think powerful men will allow someone who is out to decrease the money and power in the hands of powerful men to get into a position of power where he can decrease the money and power in the hands of those powerful men?

              Politicians will always be able to win debates. Debates aren't about being correct; they're about gaining audience support. Aside from that, look at Ron Paul... remember the #1, #2, and #4 placers of the Republican Nomination or whatever in 2012? I'm not paying attention e

    • by Zencyde (850968)
      This is a joke, right? Economics are not always about individual profits. We only have so much production capacity and the economy is a way to organize that production. It's like when someone breaks into a car by smashing the window to steal a stereo that they then get, at best, 50 dollars for. So, for a 100+ dollar stereo and a 200+ dollar window repair, that 50 bucks took a lot of destruction to pull out. Overall loss to society? 250+ dollars worth of goods and services. If you were to get robbed in the s
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      You're looking at this like it was a legitimate business, rather than the thievery that it is. This is like coming home to find your central air unit ruined because thieves stole the copper. The thieves net maybe a hundred bucks, you're out ten times that much. It isn't like the bot herders PAID for the electricity and use of the machines, they broke in and stole that electricity.

  • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @10:09AM (#45002189)

    Being only vaguely familiar with hacker jargon, I was expecting an actual sinkhole: in the ground, into which computers were literally falling.

  • by SkimTony (245337) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @10:31AM (#45002485)

    Because, as has been demonstrated here, the economics of producing bitcoins mean that there is a huge incentive to use stolen resources to produce them. Secure currency? No, just another incentive to create botnets.

  • Does the stats on electricity cost really apply? If those PC's are not infected, wouldn't they be using the electricity anyways? They are not on for the bot. The bot just infected them for it's own purposes.

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