Attacks/Breaches
12/18/2013
02:35 PM
50%
50%

Bitcoin Hit By Gameover Malware, Chinese Crackdown

China gets tough with exchanges trading Bitcoins, while new malware variant targets Bitcoin customers.

Top 10 Cloud Fiascos
Top 10 Cloud Fiascos
(click image for larger view)

Bitcoin aficionados were hit with a double whammy Wednesday, after China's largest Bitcoin exchange, BTC China Exchange, stopped accepting Chinese Yuan. The same day, security experts warned that a new variant of the Gameover malware, which is based on the Zeus banking Trojan, has begun targeting Bitcoin exchanges.

News of the blocking of Chinese Yuan (a.k.a. renminbi) deposits at Shanghai-based BTC China triggered a Bitcoin selloff, which caused the currency to lose about half of its value, dropping from a high of $1,250 Wednesday to a Bitcoin being offered for sale for just $636. At the Mt Gox exchange, meanwhile, the value of a Bitcoin Wednesday was averaging about $570.

The Chinese central bank's Bitcoin crackdown -- seen by some commentators as the government's attempt to bring the volatile virtual currency under control -- reportedly sparked a retaliatory series of distributed denial-of-service attacks that disrupted the website of the People's Bank of China.

[ Is mobile security improving? Read Android AV Improves But Still Can't Nuke Malware.]

The crackdown started last month, when the People's Bank of China prohibited the country's financial institutions from handling Bitcoins. On Monday, the central bank expanded that prohibition, telling all third-party payment providers that they must cease providing clearing services to all cryptographic virtual currencies -- including Bitcoin and Litecoin -- by the end of January.

"We essentially got notice from our third-party payment provider that they will discontinue accepting payments for us and new deposits," BTC China CEO Bobby Lee told the South China Morning Post. "We're still operating a bitcoin exchange in China, legally, and we're still allowing people to deposit and withdraw bitcoin and withdraw renminbi."

BTC China has been the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, handling 40% of the world's Bitcoin trading. But much of that trading has come from mainland China.

"A lot of people put Bitcoin's rise over recent months to China where interest in it has gone through the roof," Emily Spaven, editor of digital currency news site CoinDesk, told the BBC. "People are getting frightened that with the new regulations the country could now drop out of the ecosystem. Going forward, it's certainly not the end of Bitcoin, but people have been panic selling."

Beyond the wildly fluctuating value of Bitcoins, Bitcoin aficionados should also beware a new version of the Gameover banking malware, which has been updated to steal login credentials for Bitcoin exchanges. That warning was sounded by cybercrime expert Etay Maor, who works for IBM's Trusteeer. He said in an interview that the Bitcoin-targeting malware variant has been active since at least Nov. 29.

"This Gameover variant waits until an infected user attempts to log into the BTC China website," Maor said in a related blog post. "When this occurs, the malware steals the victim's username and password and suspends the session temporarily." That pause is so the malware can launch a social engineering attack against the user, by employing HTML injection to request that the user of the infected PC share the one-time password sent by BTC China to authorize the transaction.

"Once the cybercriminal has the victim's credentials he can easily perform an account takeover and assume control of the Bitcoins associated with the account," Maor said.

The Gameover variant is just the latest attack to be launched against Bitcoin users and exchanges. Many previous attacks have targeted -- and drained -- free e-wallet services that allow people to store their Bitcoins online. One of the virtues of attacking those sites is that if a hacker is successful, he can sell the stolen cryptographic currency anonymously.

"By definition, it won't be traceable," said Maor.

Mathew Schwartz is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer, as well the InformationWeek information security reporter.

InformationWeek Conference is an exclusive two-day event taking place at Interop where you will join fellow technology leaders and CIOs for a packed schedule with learning, information sharing, professional networking, and celebration. Come learn from each other and honor the nation's leading digital businesses at our InformationWeek Elite 100 Awards Ceremony and Gala. You can find out more information and register here. In Las Vegas, March 31 to April 1, 2014.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Strategist
12/18/2013 | 10:05:24 PM
Is this where bitcoin comes unraveled?
Have to wonder if this is the beginning of the end. At least the dollar is backed by God.
Mathew
50%
50%
Mathew,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/19/2013 | 5:52:52 AM
Re: Is this where bitcoin comes unraveled?
Wait, wasn't that the Illuminati? Paging Dan Brown ... 
Brian.Dean
100%
0%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/19/2013 | 8:52:33 AM
Re: Is this where bitcoin comes unraveled?
I guess as long as the Chinese central bank has more mass then BitCoin -- the result will always be the same. Speaking of mass, I don't know why the central bank would even bother going after BitCoin, I mean it's not like BitCoin is a super AI using computational resource under the cloak of mining and transactions. 
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, January 2015
To find and fix exploits aimed directly at your business, stop waiting for alerts and become a proactive hunter.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7402
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a crafted ICAP request.

CVE-2014-5437
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that (1) enable remote management via a request to remote_management.php,...

CVE-2014-5438
Published: 2014-12-17
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the computer_name parameter to connected_devices_computers_edit.php.

CVE-2014-7170
Published: 2014-12-17
Race condition in Puppet Server 0.2.0 allows local users to obtain sensitive information by accessing it in between package installation or upgrade and the start of the service.

CVE-2014-7285
Published: 2014-12-17
The management console on the Symantec Web Gateway (SWG) appliance before 5.2.2 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary OS commands by injecting command strings into unspecified PHP scripts.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.