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The Dark side of BitCoin

Why BitCoin?

There's no escaping it - BitCoin is everywhere now. You can't move for internet stories of how it's being used for both good, such as a powerful global currency outside of any central control, and evil such as the drug dealers on SilkRoad. This "anonymous" aspect hasn't escaped the attention of malware authors, and we're seeing the first viruses - and even warnings of a smartphone virus - which insists the victim pay using BitCoins for this very reason. Ouch.


Yes and No. Whilst it should be obvious BitCoin is less traceable than a direct bank account transfer, it's a popular myth that it's totally anonymous. Technically, it is until there is a transaction - i.e. no one can just go and look into someones account without their knowledge or permission, but if they could access the identity of a party in a BitCoin transaction it might be possible to reconstruct the chain and analyse more. The term identity is a technical one BitCoin uses as part of the transaction process - it encourages users to change it each time to minimize this risk. More is explained on the BitCoin Anonymity page - but its a fair bet anyone considering using it for the nasty stuff will certainly be aware of how to hide their tracks this, and other ways.

Critroni Crypto ransomware

The discovery of the Critroni ransomware sent shivers down the spines of every security internet expert. It doesn't target smartphones - yet - but is also unusual in the way it uses the anonymous tor network for infecting its targets with command and control botnet software. The scary part is how it can automatically encrypt a users files and demand a BitCoin payment in order to release them.  


Coming to a smartphone near you soon

How long before this manace becomes widespread on smartphones? It's almost here now. Simplocker, for example,  demands a payment to unlock infected devices using a similar attempt at anonymous payment - in this case $300 via a MoneyPak voucher. This one also encrypts the SD card and hijacks the front camera, scaring the victim into thinking they are being monitored. Once this starts to use BitCoin...