Trojan uses GPU to mine Bitcoins
Symantec has reported on a new trojan that uses the GPU on an infected system to generate virtual Bitcoins. The Badminer trojan can adapt to the hardware it is running on: if it does not find a powerful GPU, it falls back to using the system’s main processor. In calculating Bitcoins, computers have to solve cryptographic riddles, a bit like cracking a password – the computer receives data blocks that it has to hash along with the value to be guessed. If the hash starts with a preset number of zeros, the Bitcoin miner has struck gold.
There have already been contaminants found that use an infected system’s CPU to mine Bitcoins; however the process is very time-consuming – the report says that a high-end, six-core CPU from Intel can process 33.3 million hashes per second, while an Intel Atom netbook CPU can perform only 1.19 million per second.
In contrast, a high-end graphics card with two GPUs is capable of processing around 758 million hashes per second; Symantec calculates that this could theoretically earn around $157 a month at the current exchange rate. Compared to what is possible with online banking fraud, this is not much, but it would add up in a botnet with hundreds or thousands of computers.