Bitcoin miners need processing power. A botnet was the obvious next step.
Cybercrooks have begun using botnets of compromised machines to mine units of the Bitcoin virtual currency. New units of the electronic currency, which can be exchanged for real cash, can be created by completing complex mathematical tasks. Ideas in distributed computing pioneered by the SETI project and other such schemes …
The current difficulty level of mining for bitcoins is so high that using standard CPUs for it doesn't make much sense. Essentially, by the time you get a result from one of your CPU-mining herd, the global mining community will already have moved on to the next problem, and your result will be "stale" or worthless.
Then again, perhaps they are only infecting machines with higher-end AMD graphics cards...
Well, nothing of very much value, any more. After repeated scams, theft and fraud it looks like the price is down to under a third of its peak and heading downwards.
I know it's wrong, but I'm getting a lovely dose of schadenfreude by reading the bitcoin forums at the moment.
... is that bitcoin operates in "democratic" manner - if there is discrepancy in transaction chain, the branch with higher computing power "wins the vote" to select "correct" transaction chain.
Which means that if one happens to operate a botnet with million slaves, one may very well have enough computing power to vote any desired transaction. Like syphoning bitcoins from other users of this "currency".
No, you can't do that. If you controlled 100% of the hashing power then you still wouldn't be able to generate invalid blocks, that is, blocks that contain transactions that weren't signed by private key of the address where they reside.
If you owned the vast majority of the network's hashing power then you could perform double spend attacks by starting at block A, processing some fraudulent transaction in block B, chaining blocks C to G on the end to make it look trustworthy (most people accept after 6 blocks; an hour). Then you go back to block A and create a forked B,C,D,E,F,G,H chain that denies the transaction ever existed. The proof-of-work method would show your new fork as being the longest and therefore the most trustworthy, thus you can spend the coins a second time.
Bonus points for anyone who can calculate how many bots you'd need to perform a double-spend attack like this with a 95% success rate. I'm guessing it's a lot!
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