Symantec Uncovers Bitcoin-Stealing Trojan

Online digital currency is increasingly the target of pirates and digital thieves.

Security firm Symantec is warning that more people may end up like Bitcoin user "Allinvain" and find their Bitcoin digital wallets pilfered by malicious hackers.

Symantec recently discovered a Trojan called Infostealer.Coinbit lurking on the Internet that locates your Bitcoin digital wallet and e-mails its contents to the bad guys. With the information contained in your Bitcoin's wallet.dat file, online thieves can easily steal your Bitcoins. And considering that, at the time of this writing, you could sell one Bitcoin for $16.39, Bitcoin thieves stand to make a tidy profit from their illegal activities.

Bitcoin (BTC) is an online digital currency traded over a peer-to-peer network. The currency uses a system of private and public keys to verify the authenticity of each transaction and transfer Bitcoin balances between users. Similar to the way e-mail encryption works, as long as someone doesn't have your private key (usually a long string of letters and numbers) no one can steal your Bitcoins.

The weak point in the system is that your Bitcoin wallet contains your private key. So once someone has your digital wallet, they also have control of your Bitcoins and can easily transfer the digital money from your account to theirs.

The worst part is you'll have to watch the thieves transfer your money to an identifiable account number, knowing there is nothing you can do about it and that you will probably never know who the thieves are. That's the nightmare scenario early Bitcoin user Allinvain recently described claiming that thieves stole 25,000 BTC (more than $400,000 based on June 17 rates) from him. It's not clear how hackers were able to steal Allinvain's Bitcoins or if malware was used.

Bitcoins are big business right now; the network is designed to let you mint new virtual coins by having your computer solve an encryption problem. If your computer is the first to solve it, you get 50 BTC (more than $800 at June 17 rates) for your trouble. This system has sparked a virtual gold rush with reports of some users designing large numbers of computers optimized for solving Bitcoin problems. There are also mining pools where groups of people work on Bitcoin problems separately but split newly minted Bitcoins among pool members. The Bitcoin network is designed to keep generating new Bitcoins until 2040.

Stay Safe

If you're a Bitcoin user, Symantec advises you to use the option to encrypt your Bitcoin wallet. You should also use a strong password when encrypting to prevent attackers from brute forcing (guessing) your password. For details on securing your Bitcoin wallet check out the Bitcoin wiki.

Related: Best Password Managers: Top 4 Reviewed; Creating Secure Passwords You Can Remember

There's a lot of controversy circling around Bitcoin from its reported use as an online form of money laundering for the illicit drug trade to questions about Bitcoin's legality. Regardless, there's a lot of money to be made in trading and generating Bitcoins right now, and it looks like malicious hackers are starting to take notice.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags symantectrojan horsessecurityshopping

More about BTCetworkSymantec

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ian Paul

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts