Yahoo users from Europe may have unintentionally been part of a Bitcoin mining scam after running ads with hidden code that mined Bitcoins, effectively turning the machines into zombie computers for the ad creators’ profit.
One of the great things about crypto-currency Bitcoin is that it can be “mined”. This act comes with huge costs, however, because mining for Bitcoins requires dedicated computer with specialized hardware — the strengths of which usually lie in the GPU, given the way Bitcoin’s encryption works.
With this, enterprising individuals have invested time, resources and hardware into mining BTC, which is actually a finite resource, once the limit is reached. However, this has not precluded certain enterprising individuals from mining BTC through unscrupulous means. VR Zone earlier reported how an erring employee from a gaming company used gamers’ computers as zombie bots to mine Bitcoins for profit.
Recently, Yahoo users have fallen victim to a similar attack. As many as 2 million users may have been victimized by a malware attack that was served through Yahoo Ads via Java modules on client computers. Yahoo admitted in a statement that access by users from Europe from December 31, 2013 to January 3, 2014 may have resulted in these computers turning into Bitcoin miners.
Users in other regions were not affected, according to Yahoo’s statement.
The malware resulted in considerable load taken upon users computers, but mostly without their knowledge. Client computers were tasked to do the complex calculations required to mine Bitcoins from scratch, but all the rewards have accrued to the creator of the malware. The perpetrators likely profited from the mined Bitcoins, which today fare at $866.25:BTC.
Yahoo said it is still investigating the extent of the attack and gathering data, although the company has not yet shared new information, including whether additional intervention is necessary on the users’ parts.
Source: The Guardian