Report: Bitcoin mining malware spreads on Skype

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Security researchers say they have positively identified a spam message campaign on Skype designed to spread malware with Bitcoin mining capabilities.

Recently, Bitcoin hit an all-time high - $130 - in terms of value compared to the US dollar. The previous all-time high was hit in June of 2011 when the exchange rate was set at $31.9099 for the US dollar.

Bitcoin can best be described as Bitcoin a decentralized digital currency based on an open-source,peer-to-peer internet protocol. It was first introduced by Satoshi
Nakamoto in 2009.

Bitcoins are generated via a specialized algorithm on computers using both the CPU and GPU in an operation commonly referred to as "Bitcoin mining," which can also be pooled for optimized results.

So it comes as little surprise that cyber-criminals have now determined that Bitcoin mining is a perfect pastime for botnets, coding malware targeted at PC GPUs and CPUs to generate the virtual coins.

A recent spam campaign identified earlier this week on Skype apparently tricks users into visiting a rogue bit.ly URL with messages like "this is my favorite picture of you."

According to Kapersky, visiting the rogue URL often results in the download of a file known as skype-img-04_04-2013.exe - a malware installer with a low antivirus detection rate.

The average click rate for the rogue URL is currently riding high, weighing in at over 2,000 clicks per hour.

As Kapersky's Dmitry Bestuzhev notes, users affected by this malware will likely notice abnormally high CPU usage on their computers as a result of the infection.

"The campaign is quite active.... If you see your machine is working hard, using all available CPU resources, you may be infected," Bestuzhev added.