Researchers from Trustwave have successfully identified a botnet named “Pony”, determined to be a virus spread over roughly 700,000 machines worldwide designed with only a single task in mind: steal all the Bitcoin it could carry and get the hell out of there before anyone wakes up.
Operating much like the Target bug which claimed 110 million credit card numbers and counting, Pony ran in the background of user’s computers while they logged into their respective Bitcoin wallet services and online trading accounts. From here it was a simple task of recording the input and sending it back to the central command and control server for storage.
Experts close to the situation suggest around $220,000 worth of coins were taken in the heist, but the good news is on average no one person was hit by the bug especially hard, with the spread amounting to a few dimes out of every pocket overall. And Bitcoin wasn’t the only online wallet targeted either, with LiteCoin, DogeCoin, FeatherCoin, and 26 other “crypto”currencies falling prey to the scheme by the time the casualties were counted up.
Bitcoin has had a bit of a rough go of it over the past few weeks, as the scandal over MtGox continues to place it at the top of Google Trends multiple days running for all the wrong reasons. The heist only helps to exhibit the severity of the situation, reducing the potential value of the goods from almost $2 million to a little over 200k overnight.
As of this morning representatives of the company took to social media to inform their investors that the swathes of Bitcoin which they had been trusted worth were gone, and that even if they wanted to make a run on the bank, there wouldn’t be any physical locations left to collect at by the time you finished reading their official press release.
As thefts mount and markets crash, prominent investors from every international economy are losing faith that the possibility of decentralized, crowd-source regulated currency might be anything more than just another internet pipe dream a la Pets.com.