In the past when your computer has been infected with malware, it’s probably done one of the following things:
- Trashed your computer
- Turned your computer into a spam generating machine
- Started logging your activity, looking to capture credit card details
- Encrypted stuff (ransom ware) and asked you to pay money to decrypt it (see Neal Stephenson’s ReamDe for this done as a technothriller/caper story)
That’s by no means an exhaustive list. However recently a researcher at Kaspersky Labs has described the following malware, “Trojan.Win32.Jorik.IRCbot.xkt” as a Bitcon generator.
The full post is here: http://www.securelist.com/en/blog/208194210/Skypemageddon_by_bitcoining
Monetizing malware has been a bit of a bother. Each infected computer can only send a certain a mount of spam and that is only going to generate a small amount of money. Bitcoins, however, are now worth over a hundred dollars a bitcoin. A bitcoin isn’t worth a specific number of processor cycles, but if you throw many processors at it by infecting them with malware, they payoff is probably going to be a lot more lucrative than it would be for turning people’s infected PCs into SPAM generating drones.
At the moment this sort of bitcoin generating malware is described as a bit on the primitive side. As the more professionalized malware writers get in on the act, expect the malware to get a lot more sophisticated.
In the past it’s been kinda difficult to monetize malware. With bitcoin mining malware, perhaps the monetization problem has become a bit less complicated.