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Warning Issued After Malware Is Found To Have Hijacked Bitcoin Blockchain

Bitcoin’s blockchain has been hijacked by a new strain of the Glupteba malware that uses the network to resist attacks, cyber security researchers have warned.

The malware uses the bitcoin blockchain to update, meaning it can continue running even if a device’s antivirus software blocks its connection to servers run by the hackers, security intelligence blog Trend Micro reported this week.

The Glupteba malware, first discovered in December 2018, is distributed through advertising designed to spread viruses through script and can steal an infected devices’ browsing history, website cookies, and account names and passwords with this particular variant found to be targeting file-sharing websites.

However, according to researchers, the new version of the malware can also mine the privacy-specialized monero cryptocurrency and threaten the security of Instagram users’ accounts.

The malware uses the Electrum bitcoin wallet to send bitcoin transactions that the attackers use to gain access to systems.

“This technique makes it more convenient for the threat actor to replace command and control servers,” Trend Micro researchers wrote. A command and control server is the centralized computer that issues commands to an infected network of devices.

The Glupteba malware, first discovered in December 2018, is distributed through advertising designed to spread viruses through script and can steal an infected devices’ browsing history, website cookies, and account names and passwords with this particular variant found to be targeting file-sharing websites.

However, according to researchers, the new version of the malware can also mine the privacy-specialized monero cryptocurrency and threaten the security of Instagram users’ accounts.

The malware uses the Electrum bitcoin wallet to send bitcoin transactions that the attackers use to gain access to systems.

“This technique makes it more convenient for the threat actor to replace command and control servers,” Trend Micro researchers wrote. A command and control server is the centralized computer that issues commands to an infected network of devices.

“If they lose control of a command and control server for any reason, they simply need to add a new bitcoin script and the infected machines obtain a new command and control server by decrypting the script data and reconnecting.”

It’s not the first time the bitcoin blockchain has been taken advantage of by criminals, with German researchers last year discovering child abuse imagery shared via the decentralized network.

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I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk I reported on how technology is changing business, political trends, and the latest culture and lifestyle. I have covered the rise of bitcoin and cryptocurrency since 2012 and have charted its emergence as a niche technology into the greatest threat to the established financial system the world has ever seen and the most important new technology since the internet itself. I have worked and written for CityAM, the Financial Times, and the New Statesman, amongst others. Follow me on Twitter @billybambrough or email me on billyATbillybambrough.com. Disclosure: I occasionally hold some small amount of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Source: Warning Issued After Malware Is Found To Have Hijacked Bitcoin Blockchain

by Christian Karam & Vitaly Kamluk The blockchain is the public ledger stacking all bitcoin/altcoins transactions. It is constantly growing as “completed” blocks are automatically added to it with a new set of records. The blocks are added to the blockchain in a linear and chronological order. The blockchain has complete information about the addresses and their balances right from the genesis block to the most recently completed block through the mining process. Depending on the crypto-currency and the implementation of its protocols, there would be a fixed open space, where data can be stored, referenced or hosted on the blockchain within encrypted transactions and their records. This very versatile nature of the blockchain offers great opportunities for future innovation especially in decentralized systems. The research focus revolves around the threat of embedding decentralized chunks of malware on the blockchain by either hosting it or referencing it with cascaded pointers. Transactions and data are encrypted throughout the blockchain networks using different versions of public/private key encryption. Could malware survive eternally inside crypto-transactions? A proof of concept will be explained highlighting the concerns revolving around the “abuse and bloating” of the blockchain while comparing it to previous malware hosting and deployment models. In this talk, INTERPOL will frame the scope of this future threat and provide potential solutions for a threat surrounding the blockchain technology.

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The Large Bitcoin Collider Is Generating Trillions of Keys and Breaking Into Wallets – VICE

Since we first published this article, major security flaws in the Large Bitcoin Collider client have come to light. Check out our follow-up reporting on these issues here.

For nearly a year, a group of cryptography enthusiasts has been pooling their resources on a quixotic quest to brute-force crack one of bitcoin’s cryptographic algorithms for creating wallet addresses. This is thought to be impossible today, but if they succeed, at least one element of bitcoin’s cryptography will be instantly obsolete.

It’s probably due to the scope of the challenge that the project is called the Large Bitcoin Collider, after the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator. But instead of new physics, the Large Bitcoin Collider is hunting cryptographic collisions—essentially proving that a supposedly unique and random string of numbers can be duplicated. More on collisions and their ramifications for bitcoin later, but along the way the LBC is using its computing power to try and bust open bitcoin wallets owned by other people, and potentially taking the coins inside.

Read More: The Great Physical Bitcoin Robbery

The basics are this: bitcoin addresses containing funds can be accessed by private keys, which are generated at the same time as the address. Technically, a number of private keys could work with any given address, but you’d need a huge amount of computing power to brute force your way through enough possibilities to find any of them. The LBC attempts to accomplish this by recruiting the computing power of anyone who’s willing to download and run their software.

Finding a private key that works with an existing wallet is a fast-and-loose version of “cracking,” and gives the attacker access to all the funds inside. But when someone in the LBC pool finds a working private key, do they get to keep the coins?

“In principle yes, although there is a process defined where—if someone appears with an alternate key—the pool members consider him the owner of the address,” “Rico,” the pseudonymous lead of LBC, told me in an email. He would only tell me that he’s a computer programmer “past his 40s,” who lives in Europe.

As for the legality of all this, LBC advises participants with a rather laissez-faire attitude.

“Depending on your jurisdiction, this may be considered theft and is therefore illegal,” the site’s FAQ states. “However, there are many jusrisdictions [sic] where you could perfectly legally claim 5-10% of the value found. So you should consider if you want 100% and become a criminal or if you get 10% and still be a law abiding citizen.”

The LBC has been working for just under a year. So far, Rico claims, the project has generated over 3,000 trillion private keys and checked them against existing bitcoin addresses to see if they work, and has found three that do and contain bitcoin. They’ve found over 30 private keys in total, some of which are for so-called “puzzle” addresses that are suspected to have been generated as easy bait for crackers.

“This project has been called many things: Impossible, illegal, pointless, cool, etc.”

Cracking wallets may seem malicious on the surface—and if an LBC participant knowingly steals funds, it might just be—but it also has research value. Bitcoin security researcher Ryan Castellucci has done work cracking wallets as a proof-of-concept in order to model attacker behaviour and defend against it.

“The thing that disappoints me about this is that they’re only checking addresses that have a balance instead of all addresses that have ever been used,” he said in an interview over the phone. “For research, it’s much more interesting to check all addresses that have ever been used, because that will show you if there’ve been weak addresses created in the past and if they’ve been cleaned out by attackers.”

But cracking wallets is just one part of the LBC’s mission. The other is to find a genuine cryptographic collision, which would mean it’s possible to generate inputs that, when put through the bitcoin address hashing algorithm, generate an identical pair. If it were ever to happen, bitcoin would have to use a new cryptographic algorithm for addresses. This would be similar to Google creating a collision with the once-popular SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm, which ended its usefulness for good.

Read More: I Broke Bitcoin

“Finding a P2PKH-collision [one cryptographic method of creating bitcoin addresses] would probably mean the end of P2PKH but not bitcoin,” Rico explained, regarding the ramifications of finding a collision. “Bitcoin would evolve with new address types. Most certainly it wouldn’t ‘die’ because of this.”

Castellucci also urged caution when it comes to getting all riled up about the LBC’s search for a cryptographic collision in bitcoin.

“To effectively find [a collision], you would have to find some way to generate [keys] much, much faster than is currently known to be possible,” he said. “Unless they find some sort of breakthrough in cracking techniques, the brute force strategy they’re using poses no threat to anybody’s bitcoin.”

“Someone could play the lottery three weeks in a row and win every time,” he explained. “That theoretically could happen, but it’s safe to assume it won’t.” Castellucci isn’t alone in this belief. Others, on the /r/bitcoin subreddit for example, have been much less kind and called the LBC “pointless.” But that hasn’t deterred Rico.

“Since it’s inception [around] 8 months ago, this project has been called many things: Impossible, illegal, pointless, cool, etc.,” Rico wrote.

“I think there is more waiting to be uncovered by the LBC—including a collision,” he continued. “So with that in mind we really do not care much about what ‘someone on Reddit’ said.”

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Source: The Large Bitcoin Collider Is Generating Trillions of Keys and Breaking Into Wallets – VICE

Major Central Bank Institution BIS: Bitcoin Must Depart From Proof-of-Work

Bitcoin’s (BTC) problems are only solvable by departing from a proof-of-work (PoW) system, according to research published by the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) on Jan. 21. According to the paper, when in the future Bitcoin’s block rewards fall to zero — given that only a limited number of new Bitcoin will ever be created — transaction fees alone will not be able to sustain mining expenses. The argument implies that the Bitcoin network would become so slow that it would be virtually unusable, stating…….

Source: Major Central Bank Institution BIS: Bitcoin Must Depart From Proof-of-Work

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