June 17, 2011

Hackers Targeting Online Currency Users

According to computer security firm Symantec, hackers are targeting users of the virtual currency Bitcoin by penetrating computers and swiping their digital wallets.

"Malware authors move fast," Symantec's Stephen Doherty said in a blog post about digital pickpockets targeting Bitcoin.

"We have seen a recent Trojan in the wild targeting Bitcoin wallets," Doherty said.

"It has one motive: to locate your Bitcoin wallet.dat file and email it to the attacker," Doherty said. "This is not surprising considering the potential values in a Bitcoin wallet."

Bitcoins are a digital currency some online merchants accept that can be traded at online currency exchanges like Mtgox.com for real dollars.

Doherty said Bitcoin users should consider encrypting their wallet files, which hold the virtual currency.

"If you use Bitcoins, you have the option to encrypt your wallet and we recommend that you choose a strong password for this in the event that an attacker is attempting to brute-force your wallet open," he said in a blog post.

A Bitcoin user claimed earlier this week that his computer had been hacked and 25,000 Bitcoins, worth $500,000, was stolen.

Bitcoins have drawn the attention of the U.S. Senate after a report that they have been used to purchase prescription drugs, cocaine, LSD and heroin at an online network called Silk Road.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Agency asking for the immediate shutdown of Silk Road.

"After purchasing Bitcoins through an exchange, a user can create an account on Silk Road and start purchasing illegal drugs from individuals around the world and have them delivered to their homes within days," they said.


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