Bitcoin’s Security Challenges

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The tactics used in Bitcoin thefts are fairly bold. According to a CSO article, E-Sports Entertainment admitted to “secretly installing Bitcoin mining software” on thousands of computers and has agreed to a $1 million settlement.

The anti-malware company Malwarebytes has released a warning about software that uses computers to mine Bitcoins. As The Guardian reported:

The program "installs a Bitcoin minter on the user system, not just for a quick buck but actually written into the software's EULA [End User License Agreement]. This type of system hijacking is just another way for advertising based software to exploit a user into getting even more cash."

The majority of computer users have no idea that their computer has been turned into a Bitcoin-mining zombie – after all, how many people read the EULA for software? However, a good anti-malware program should be able to find the malware and get rid of it.

On the positive side, The Guardian article added, developers may have outwitted themselves:

The amount of processing power now being used to try to mine Bitcoins have increased exponentially in the past year, so that it now requires dedicated ASIC processing rigs to generate Bitcoins in any reasonable period. It's now almost impossible to mine Bitcoins using a standard PC CPU - and even "botnets" of CPUs aren't able to compete against the dedicated rigs in terms of computing power.

The crypto-currency known as Bitcoin was first introduced in 2009 in a paper published by Satoshi Nakamoto. As Kaspersky Lab described the e-currency:

Named "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System," the paper defined the foundations for a distributed, de-centralized financial payment system, with no transaction fees. The Bitcoin system was implemented and people started using it. What kind of people? In the beginning, they were mostly hobbyists and mathematicians. Soon, they were joined by others – mostly ordinary people, but also cyber criminals and terrorists.

Since the introduction of Bitcoins in 2009, they have received a lot of attention: some of it good, some of it bad. Just like any other crypto-currency, they’ve been associated with numerous scams, hacks/thefts, defunct "stock exchanges," and reported losses of wallets containing massive amounts.

Kaspersky Lab’s experts explained that Bitcoin really began to hit its stride in 2013, in part because they are a secure, anonymous, way of paying for law-abiding citizens, especially for those who want to fly underneath the NSA’s surveillance radar.

Bitcoin as a currency, itself, seems to function as-advertised, according to Andrew Brandt, director of threat research at Blue Coat. The math surrounding the creation and transmission of value through the currency exchange network is scientifically sound.

As global commerce will only increase, e-currency in general, and in particular Bitcoin, could play a major role in how consumers and enterprises alike pay for goods and services. But first, it has to solve its security issues.


Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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