Water Utility Infected by Cryptocurrency Mining Software

A water utility in Europe has been infected by cryptocurrency mining software. This is a relatively new attack: hackers compromise computers and force them to mine cryptocurrency for them. This is the first time I've seen it infect SCADA systems, though.

It seems that this mining software is benign, and doesn't affect the performance of the hacked computer. (A smart virus doesn't kill its host.) But that's not going to always be the case.

Posted on February 8, 2018 at 11:55 AM • 62 Comments

Comments

AnuraFebruary 8, 2018 12:09 PM

Not harmless; I once let folding@home run on my computer in the background once 24/7 and it made a very noticeable dent in my electric bill. If the CPU is normally at higher load, it will also likely cause it to run hotter and reduce the lifetime of the server. The cost of the electricity likely exceeds the value of bitcoins generated, so from an economic standpoint it's a bad idea.

Proof of work currencies are bad and they should feel bad.

JasonRFebruary 8, 2018 12:20 PM

The bigger issue is: If someone trying to scam "free" cryptocurrency, who else could be in there stealthily hidden away until the "wrong" moment? If one were a nation-state that wanted to invade, taking down key critical assets such as water, utilities, transportation, etc. sure seems like a good way to soften a target a few weeks before.

Troy MurschFebruary 8, 2018 12:22 PM

Hi Bruce,

Cryptojacking malware is far from benign and most definitely affects the performance of the host. Typically we see 100% CPU usage when cryptojacking malware is running in a web browser or a standalone executable. I've researched the topic extensively for the last five months and can discuss what I've found if you'd like to chat.

Richmond2000February 8, 2018 1:19 PM

IMHO being "benign" is worse as the operators may not notice the "infection" for a LONG time and ANY program running that is NOT intentionally put there by the system user is a BIG security risk!!!

(required)February 8, 2018 1:47 PM

This is why you don't beat the drum beat to war constantly and become known for that.

Or if you do, you don't also link your economic practices to your adversaries directly.

Or if you do, you don't also connect your vital infrastructure to the leaky-tube internet.

Or if you do, you don't also simultaneously attack the economic infrastructure of the rest of the world.

Or if you do, you don't also rely on the products of technical adversaries for your defense.

Or if you do, you don't actually expect to escape unscathed from blowback, do you?

DO you?

MarcFebruary 8, 2018 1:50 PM

To all those objecting to Bruce's use of the word "benign": I'm pretty sure he means it in the sense of "a benign tumor", rather than "a benign influence".

A benign tumor still steals resources and, in some instances, impedes function - it just doesn't directly kill the patient. It's one of those things that you "die with, not of".

If you still think that doesn't sound very benign - take it up with the medical community, who popularized this usage decades ago.

RatioFebruary 8, 2018 2:07 PM

@(required),

Hold your hysterical hobby horses: the post is about a water utility in Europe.

GrauhutFebruary 8, 2018 2:39 PM

It makes sense not to break a IoB device, but to use it as an infection vector for fat clients. We use fat clients to monitor our internet of bullshit crap, they just have to wait...

Security SamFebruary 8, 2018 4:38 PM

One seemingly innocuous virus
Allegedly poised the town well
And chicken little kept yelling
The hen basket is going to hell.

Impossibly StupidFebruary 8, 2018 5:30 PM

@Ratio

Hold your hysterical hobby horses: the post is about a water utility in Europe.

Back in 2013 I had an attack on a server of mine that originated from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. I puzzled at the time why hackers would waste the valuable access they obtained by trying to do something as worthless as spam my blog's comments. Flash forward 5 years and now they're wasting it to get, what, maybe a hundred bucks in cryptocurrency? Someone needs to clue these criminals in to the fact that not all botnet nodes are created equal. The black market value of compromised infrastructure machines has got to be worth at least an order of magnitude more to foreign powers.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 8, 2018 6:10 PM

Did anybody else notice the "Windows XP" comment?

Windows XP is not just on SCADA systrms or other Industrial Control Systems (ICS), it can also be found in telephone exchange front ends and one heck of a lot of medical and rlectronics test equipment.

In all the above cases the chances that they will get upgraded is quite small mainly due to "resource issues", likewise because of their "sunk costs" it is unlikely that they will be replaced in less than a decade and in some cases less than a quater of a century.

It's why I've been saying for over a quater of a century that such systems should never br attached to publicaly available communications networks of any kind.

It's not just the Internet you need to worry about, most larger systems use plain text links from the master unit to any remote units. In quite a few utility and public transportation systems this involves Private Mobile Radio (PMR) links. Whilst localized Plaintext PMR links are effectively "public communications" and therefore quite vulnerable. If mining of certain crypto currancies on such utility and transportation networks pays off, then attackers will almost certainly find other ways in than just from the Internet...

Thus as long as there is money to be made on such systems they will be under attack in all ways possible to attackers.

Most ICS / SCADA engineers will not yet have got their heads around this point, thus I would expect at best "glacial changes" untill something goes seriously and very publicly wrong...

RatioFebruary 8, 2018 6:10 PM

@(required),

My comment's scope isn't limited to Europe. The single instance mentioned is not the only instance.

Yet “this is why” you don’t do this, or if you do, you don’t do that, and so on. The single instance mentioned illustrates why you better not. Because if you do, there’s gonna be some cryptocurrency mining blowback at your local water utility. “This is why”…

@Oblig,

Such wise words.

Fred PFebruary 8, 2018 7:06 PM

@Clive Robinson-

I can affirm that there are multiple medical instruments that I am aware of with OSes that are older than Windows XP, at least some of which are likely to still be installed for a while longer (years to decades).

As for network connectivity, note that in many cases, the owners feel they are getting value off of that connection. What is the value of finding out that a test result is bad /before/ it is reported to a doctor due to an internet-based communication about a mechanical failure in said instrument? What is the value of having centralized communication of the tests associated with a patient distributed automatically? For many labs, one or more of those are quite high.

Somebody elseFebruary 8, 2018 7:08 PM

I'm kind of surprised that a SCADA system or a system running XP had enough power to be worth hijacking for cryptocurrency. How many hashes per hour can an HC11 perform?

FrancesFebruary 8, 2018 9:47 PM

Benign tumours do not metastasize but they may not be particularly benign where they grow.

maqpFebruary 8, 2018 10:53 PM

@ Bruce

Here in Finland the IT systems of city of Lahti are affected due to cryptocurrency mining malware as well. This affects city's library services, and because patient database systems are disconnected as a precaution, health centers have become crowded. Another side effect of this is, electronic prescriptions for drugs are not working.

Gunter KönigsmannFebruary 9, 2018 12:17 AM

@Somebody Else: even a few intelligent lightbulbs are powerful enough to mine cryptocurrencies as are the cellphones one game vendor tried to use for this purpose while the game was running. The only drawback is that millions of computers that are doing the same might be thousands of times more powerful each so the revenue might be zero even if you don't pay for the electricity the computers you stole use.

---

In Germany there once we're rumors that someone had hijacked POS terminals for sending spam. Don't know if that was true but that might have been a similar waste of resources in a way...

WinterFebruary 9, 2018 2:21 AM

How cyber is imitating nature. Just like parasites try not to kill their host, malware is evolving to mine* their host for everything he is worth, for as long as possible. Expect this to become more sophisticated fast.

*pun intended

OtterFebruary 9, 2018 9:34 AM

If your electricity bill increases by $100, and I thereby gain $1, that is highly efficient for me. If your electricity bill increases by $1, and I thereby gain $100, that remains highly inefficient for you.

SimoneFebruary 9, 2018 10:07 AM

Cost of electricity is almost always more than the value of the cryptocurrency mined, unless the computer system is optimized for mining with an ASIC. This is similar to stealing $40,000 worth of copper wire and selling it for scrap metal for $40.00 There is an inefficiency which makes this type of theft much more harmful.

If a thief steals a sandwich, there is merely a redistribution, unfair though it may be, of societal resources from one person to another. But if a thief destroys an entire garden for a few mouthfuls of food, there is a net loss to society.

(required)February 9, 2018 10:51 AM

@ ratio

"Because if you do, there’s gonna be some cryptocurrency mining blowback at your local water utility"

You seem to miss it : Cryptomining is not the threat. It's the indicator of local capability.

Mining is a harmless use by comparison. The access to accomplish it is not harmless.
If they're into the local water utilities as JasonR says, nothing stops worse things.

Blowback still applies. We still have the vital interests on the "open" internet.
We still make economic, cyber, cultural and kinetic wars on the world at large.
Our economy is still directly tied to the internet remaining safe and functional.

We should be thankful that there's a relatively obvious "attack" going on to make small amounts of cash for the criminals, rather than having them leverage their access for longer-term more strategic interests of hostile nation states. That could change.

My comment was America-centric if you read it that way, but it's not actually.
That all applies to Europe to a similar degree.

TheInformedOneFebruary 9, 2018 2:15 PM

Why is this suprising? Because product liability for hardware (IoT) nearly killed the U.S. general aviation industry in the 90's. Cessna and Piper were still losing lawsuits from crashes of planes they made 40 yrs. earlier. Sound familiar? It should, but not really!! If a Siemens SCADA device is hacked and causes a power blackout which in turn causes a few people to die during a winter storm, does Siemens get sued into bankruptcy? Did the storm kill them? Did the power outage kill them? Did the extreme cold kill them? Or did the hackers kill them by cause-n-effect? OEM's do the best they can with what they've got at the time. But I don't think anyone in the 1980s expected a SCADA device to still be in service 30 yrs. later. And if so, why wasn't it behind a really good firewall or other security measures (like air gap) which offset it's weakness? So the question comes down to the cost of liability. Both airlines and street intersections kill people, and both have pre-defined thresholds before insurance or preventative action kick in. A city will allow 4 deaths at a street intersection with stop signs. Upon the 5th death they install $250K traffic signals. Why? Because there's a pre-defined threshold which was set by lawyers and insurance to minimize risk of a lawsuit. Once the U.S. legal system gets a better cyber-liability landscape in place, you'll see critical infrastructure providers upgrading. But unfortunately, not until then.

Somebody elseFebruary 9, 2018 2:17 PM

If you look at the hash rates on the processors I see running SCADA systems on XP the hash rate is something between .1 and 10 MHash/s. Looking at the current hash rate (2E7 Thash/s), the reward 12.5 bitcoin/10 minutes and value $10,000/bitcoin. I calculate hijacking the SCADA machine will gross $0.003 per year.

I'd be surprised if the hijacker can run a command and control network for less than that.

So the hijack is a big loss for the hijackee who pays for electricity, but it's also a loss for the hijacker.

Somebody elseFebruary 9, 2018 3:07 PM

And use those numbers on a smart lightbulb, which may have a one bit processor and there aren't enough smart lights in the entire world to make it worthwhile running them as a bitcoin miner.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 9, 2018 3:28 PM

@ Somebody else,

Looking at the current hash rate (2E7 Thash/s), the reward 12.5 bitcoin/10 minutes and value $10,000/bitcoin. I calculate hijacking the SCADA machine will gross $0.003 per year.

Your calculation is incorect.

If you read the article you will find,

    Kfir noted that Radiflow does not currently know how much Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency was mined by the water utility infection.

You will see the cryptocurrancy being mined was "Monero" not "Bitcoin".

From what has been said about various cryptocurrancies, it's pointless trying to mine bitcoin on PC hardware as it's gone well beyond that point and you need as a minimum FPGA or preferably ASIC hardware to stay in the game. However newer currancies provide greater returns on PC hardware still, and some are specifically designed to make FPGA/ASIC mining not worth while, thus opening it up to ordinary CPU miners.

According to Wiki (take it for what it's worth) Monero is a newer (2014) Cryptocurrancy with significant privacy and other advantages over Bitcoin for various people. But more importantly it is designed to be more egalitarian. This is because,

    Monero is designed to be resistant to application-specific integrated circuit[ASIC] mining, which is commonly used to mine other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It can be mined somewhat efficiently on consumer grade hardware such as x86, x86-64, ARM and GPUs.

Thus it may be somebody who likes the higher privacy Monero gives or who is speculating on future returns some considerable time --in computing terms-- down the road.

hmmFebruary 10, 2018 3:47 PM

@ Clive

Any insights on HOW monero resists ASIC mining? Does it look for x86 clues?

It seems to me if someone wanted to go around that it'd be a decent weekend project.

RatioFebruary 10, 2018 6:43 PM

@(required),

Cryptomining is not the threat. It's the indicator of local capability.

The capability to run code on someone else’s computer? This is news?

Blowback still applies. We still have the vital interests on the "open" internet. We still make economic, cyber, cultural and kinetic wars on the world at large. Our economy is still directly tied to the internet remaining safe and functional.

(I’m quietly rolling my eyes.)

Yes, people the world over depend on infrastructure. This infrastructure is vulnerable to all sorts of attacks.

But blowback from $RANDOM_ADJECTIVE war will not come as cryptomining malware at the local water utility. And ending that $RANDOM_ADJECTIVE war will not save the local water utility from cryptomining malware. It’s almost as if the two things hardly have anything to do with each other.

(required)February 11, 2018 2:05 AM

"It’s almost as if the two things hardly have anything to do with each other."

So you do finally understand the concept of quasi-unattributable action. Hey, congrats.

Welcome to the internet. Thanks for plugging your vital infrastructure in. No worries!

You're right, there's nothing to realize here, no lesson to learn. Go back to bed.

RatioFebruary 11, 2018 5:09 PM

@(required),

Welcome to the internet. Thanks for plugging your vital infrastructure in.

More and more, the internet itself is vital infrastructure.

Like other infrastructure, it can be used to attack itself.

You're right, there's nothing to realize here, no lesson to learn.

There is no new lesson to be learned here.

(required)February 11, 2018 9:02 PM

Well the lesson has either been learned or it bears repeating. It's not fixed yet, is it?
They're still connecting necessary meatspace infrastructure to the internet all the time.

I do distinguish between infrastructure necessary for basic daily life and the internet.
That's the point you keep interrupting with non-sequiturs and vague subject-reacharounds.
Maybe I could have said it better, but you sure didn't refute any part of it significantly.

You tried to say what I said didn't apply to Europe. I explained how that was wrong,
it still does apply pretty much everywhere there's any wealth and/or a government with internet in the world - and now your goalpost-moving critique is that I'm not talking about new topics or dropping stunning new truisms. Gee, let me trip over myself to apologize to you? Pfft.
You're not exactly forging new ground here yourself, are you really?

Or were you teaching us about vaguely poo-poohing things that "everybody already knows"?
If that was your underlying goal, hey, salute to your gamesmanship. Congratulations.

I guess we're no longer talking about vital infrastructure and these short-term profit coin gambits driving a new phenomenon in attempts to connect the aforementioned with the latter-described.
You've shut that discussion right down, good for you.

I mean we're all waiting on the edge of our seats breathlessly seeking your personal approval here.
If you could find it in your heart to allow the conversation to continue, that'd be very kind of you.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 11, 2018 9:28 PM

@ hmm,

Any insights on HOW monero resists ASIC mining? Does it look for x86 clues?

From memory there is a page up on the web that gives more than hints at how "Egalitarian proof of work" methods do this. It was not very clear or well written, and I can't find it. So you will have to make do with,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoNote#Egalitarian_proof_of_work

But in essence you can come up with algorithms that do not fit well with hard coded logic and also require sizable amounts of memory[1]. Thus they favor CPU/GPU solutions not FPGA/ASIC solutions thus they tend to equalize the cost/throuput differential[2].

They are great untill somebody comes up with a new computing paradigm... If you remember Intel purchased Altera for just this purpose. That is make a CPU/GPU that also has an inbuilt FPGA and if the money is right for the likes of Google and Amazon an inbuilt ASIC... Such an idea was original thought up by the likes of the NSA/IBM/Boeing to speed up pasword cracking and the like. So I'm taking a guess that Intel are looking to produce a solution for the major groups that we will never realy get to see. The fact that it will also be good for most currently suggested "Proof of Work" (PoW) algorithms suggests that they want to capture that corner of the market as well...

[1] Although logically complex most modern crypto algorithms are designed to run well on both CPUs and FPGAs. However this is because their need to hold data is actively reduced. However if you increase the number of Fiestel rounds or increase the amount of stotage in the "one way functions" used in the Fiestel rounds then that memory requirment will kill performance extensively. Thus making crypto with large oneway functions etc will make it unfriendly to FPGA/ASIC optimization. Some people are currently looking at "Sponge Functions" to do this[2].

[2] Although Proof of Work functions have been around for a couple or three decades they did not get much attention prior to crypto currency mining. That said it's a new wrinkle on highly technical work around Crypto algorithms. Thus I'm guessing we are overdue for a rise in academic publishing for it. I would be guessing that our host @Bruce will have some kind of eye on it as it will fit right in with the way this blog used to be. Oh and you never know maybe NIST will have an algorithm competition like no other they have done before...

RatioFebruary 11, 2018 10:46 PM

@(required),

It's not fixed yet, is it?

It will never be fixed.

I do distinguish between infrastructure necessary for basic daily life and the internet.

For how much longer?

You tried to say what I said didn't apply to Europe.

Your little rant up there started with this: “This is why you don't beat the drum beat to war constantly and become known for that.” Say this turns out to have happened in Iceland, how does this apply? Another case of $RANDOM_ADJECTIVE war?

Yes, if you have boxes connected to the internet, they can get hacked. But you went from “war” to “blowback”, and used this incident at a water utility as an illustration of the latter. That linkage is just a pile of BS.

[...] now your goalpost-moving critique is that I'm not talking about new topics or dropping stunning new truisms.

No, I said that there was no new lesson to be learned from this. (For example, botnets became a thing a decade and a half or so ago.)

You've shut that discussion right down, good for you.

“Help! I’m being oppressed!” No, you’re not.

(required)February 11, 2018 11:07 PM

'It will never be fixed.'

So it still applies and the discussion is still relevant despite your rambling efforts here? Whew.

"and used this incident at a water utility as an illustration of the latter."

Nope, you apparently misread again. I said it was illustrating the potential for blowback.
Mining isn't a threat. I said that as plainly as possible, still you missed it somehow.

'It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'
-Sinclair Lewis

It's pointless if you don't want to have a discussion about this. So why involve yourself?

Go pick another fight with Clive as that seems to perpetually sate your desire for pyrrhic mental combat.

We're done here contrarian snowflake.

RatioFebruary 12, 2018 12:13 AM

@(required),

So it still applies [...]?

What is “it”? Lessons that can be learned by those catching up? Sure.

Nope, you apparently misread again. I said [this incident at a water utility] was illustrating the potential for blowback.

I didn’t, you didn’t, and it doesn’t.

You initially used the incident as an example of blowback, and later clarified that while cryptomining malware was a minor issue, (unspecified) worse was possible.

It's pointless if you don't want to have a discussion about this.

I’m no expert, but it seems we’re already having a discussion.

We're done here contrarian snowflake.

Yeah, whatever.

RatioFebruary 12, 2018 1:17 AM

What’s the point if you don’t want to discuss this?

We’re already discussing it. So about that, …

That’s it! You don’t contribute to the discussion! I’m done!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Oh bravoFebruary 12, 2018 3:40 AM

"I have nothing to contribute to the topic of discussion but semantic squabbles and italics."

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Oh encoreFebruary 12, 2018 5:15 AM

We're duly surprised you didn't miss that also, along with the point so many times.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

JG4February 12, 2018 5:31 AM


@Clive - If I understand correctly, it doesn't matter what the proof of work is that underlies any particular blockchain or cryptocurrency, except that each type of work will have different scaling rules, i.e., how performance (price to earnings ratio) varies along axes like memory size, combinatorial logic size, processor speed, etc.

One implication is that the virtue signaling work could be done via algorithms that produce useful output, such as protein folding, SETI or climate modeling. Thus, blockchain is another path to parallel computing for large problems. NSF would call them grand challenges. No Such Agency would have other intrinsically parallel algorithms of great interest that could be scaled to accentuate the fundamental tradeoffs between individual rights and collective rights.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 12, 2018 8:47 AM

@ JG4,

One implication is that the virtue signaling work could be done via algorithms that produce useful output, such as protein folding, SETI or climate modeling.

It's a nice idea, and I would likr it to be the way to go, but...

Whilst folding/SETI has utility it does not provide cryptographic proof.

In essense the major use of PoW currently is the blockchain, which is a slight variation on Merkel Trees.

Thus the PoW is in effect "doing part of what should not be possible" which is "brut force a one way function". In essence you are reversing a hash of the latest node on the tree as the proof of work against some criterier like the first X bits are zero. Every so often X is incremented so on average you have to do twice the work you did before.

What is lacking is a transform to in essence convert the waste of CPU cycles, time and energy that finding that reversed hash to something usefull in another problem domain.

I can see that it is possible to come up with such transforms but the effort involved is broadly similar to the PoW effort...

Thus the question arises are there any short cuts / trapdoors that mathmaticians can use to make such transforms economical to find.

RatioFebruary 12, 2018 9:08 AM

@(required), @Oblig, @Get a life., @Oh bravo, @Oh encore,

The point mainly being that this incident shows why you don’t wage economic, cyber, cultural and kinetic wars on the world at large (still rolling my eyes at all of that) while increasingly depending on the internet and connecting (“other”, I would add, but you’re not there yet) vital infrastructure to it. Because blowback. Could have been worse, and is really about access, not mining of cryptocurrency.

Or, if you missed the point just now, another instance showing the same thing would be this case of a Fed employee using Fed computers to mine Bitcoins. Again, the point isn’t that he was installed cryptomining software, the employee had access to computers!1!! Very blowback, many worse.

Yeah, I guess those well-made points. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained SpookFebruary 12, 2018 9:55 AM

@ Ratio:

the point isn’t that he was installed cryptomining software,

You missed this too :-)

RatioFebruary 12, 2018 10:20 AM

@Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained Spook,

The guy actually was the installed cryptomining software. Deinstallation was dismissal. True story. ;-)

Clive RobinsonFebruary 12, 2018 12:13 PM

@ Ratio,

Because blowback.

If it was only that then there would be easy ways to deal with it (ie an electronic form of "exceptionalism" or Mexican wall).

But the US has been running at a trade deficit for some time now, thus any attempt to redress the balance in a sane way would involve "easy access to US markets" by consumers outside of the US. In this day and age, much of that needs electronic communications. That for various --cost-- reasons usually means the Internet or other shared cost system, which generally means poor security unless certain techniques are used. But even then a Massive Distributed Denial of Service is going to be extremely difficult to prevent, especially beyond jurisdictional limits.

As major corps are demonstrating "National Sovereignty" means little when traditional tangible world geolocation is replaced with modern intangible geoindependent existance. It's something few politicians appear to be able to get their heads around and various MIC profiteers don't under any circumstances want them to[1].

In effect having one of the highest use of resources per head of population in the world ~10xAverage the US is going to feel the pain of such issues long before others where Internet conectivity is virtualy non existant for many reasons.

Thus as a conflict area it is incredibly asymetric and is unlikely to imorove any time soon.

Which is why "Offense over Defense" is a very bad idea for the US and of no relavance to a "non-wired Nation"...

With the likes of the FBI/DoJ trying to make "Defense near impossible" for the US population it realy does not bode well for the US economy and the citizens and politicians dependent on it. Those however who have their assets out of US jurisdiction like the non-wired probably will not care a jot either...

[1] There is an old saying about not being able to change somebodies out look on life when their financial security is dependent on them not doing so...

PfftFebruary 12, 2018 4:06 PM

"(still rolling my eyes at all of that)"

And to think, you were accused of no actual contribution.

JG4February 12, 2018 6:21 PM


@Clive - Thanks for the helpful discussion. There may be alternate scenarios for proof of work. Can we make a distinction between mining a cryptocurrency and blockchain maintenance? I believe that mining has to follow your prescription of doing what is very inconvenient for the purpose of mapping out all of the coins in a space. The separate problem of managing the follow-on transaction of those coins might use a different proof of work scheme. My "knowledge" of this area is superficial, so my conjecture here may be worth less than you are paying to read it.

Could some difficult piece of useful computational work be done, where the first organization claims a reward by logging the result into then blockchain, and gets some fraction of a reward after a second or multiple organizations corroborate to get other fractions of the reward. The other machines who finish beyond that are allowed to lodge objections to any incorrect result, to prevent both collusion and errors. In effect, voting on the accuracy of the blockchain record. Or the later finishers could be rewarded on other sliding scales. If a computational result is found to be in error, the payments to the organizations in error can be revoked, with suitable fines levied, which then are paid to the groups finding and fixing the errors.

I've found a few tutorials on blockchains and cryptocurrencies, but haven't devoted any time to understanding the details. I'd welcome any pointers to good material.


Bong-Smoking Primitive Monkey-Brained SpookFebruary 13, 2018 3:02 AM

@ Ratio:

The guy actually was the installed cryptomining software. Deinstallation was dismissal. True story. ;-)

False alarm. You're right, upon reading it a second time it appeared that's exactly what you meant.

I should've invested in a popcorn company instead of tech stocks and crapto-currency. They're gonna be selling popcorn by the barrels soon at a security theatre near you or perhaps in S/N K. All I need is a fat woman to spit butter on the popcorn, eh?

vas pupFebruary 13, 2018 11:13 AM

Criminals hide 'billions' in crypto-cash – Europol:
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43025787
Mr Wainwright said: "They're not banks and governed by a central authority so the police cannot monitor those transactions."And if they do identify them as criminal they have no way to freeze the assets unlike in the regular banking system."
Another problem Europol has identified involves the method that criminals use to launder money. Proceeds from criminal activity are being converted into bitcoins, split into smaller amounts and given to people who are seemingly not associated with the criminals but who are acting as "money mules".
These money mules then convert the bitcoins back into hard cash before returning it to the criminals. "It's very difficult for the police in most cases to identify who is cashing this out," Mr Wainwright said.
He said that police were also seeing a trend where money "in the billions" generated from street sales of drugs across Europe is being converted into bitcoins.

RatioFebruary 13, 2018 12:29 PM

@(required), @Oblig, @Get a life., @Oh bravo, @Oh encore, @Pfft,

Good ideas survive scrutiny; yours didn’t. My contribution was taking out the trash.

ModeratorFebruary 13, 2018 2:29 PM

@Ratio and @(required)+alternates: I have deleted the last two comments in this exchange. Please desist. And @(required), to repeat, please do not keep changing handles mid-conversation.

Clive RobinsonFebruary 13, 2018 4:04 PM

@ JG4,

Can we make a distinction between mining a cryptocurrency and blockchain maintenance?

It depends on other peoples point of view a bit like the hacker/cracker debate. The press and politicos just killed the original meaning for theie own ease of sowing confusion.

In essence a "blockchain" is a variation of a Merkle Tree with an added Proof of Work.

You can look at a Merkle Tree as simply a "hash block of a group of record entries" where each entry in a record is a text string and it's hash. The entries hashes are then hashed together --often as a binary tree-- which forms part of the block. To make a chain the result of the previous block is brought forward into the next block.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkle_tree

So far so easy the workload is minimal and thus quick to generate and easy and rapid to verify.

What makes blockchains into crypto-currencies is a "Proof of Work". Bitcoin like other crypto-currancies use the "Hashcash" proof of work,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashcash

It's fairly easy to understand how it works and why the work effort doubles with every "zero bit".

Thus the difference can be made by the amount of work involved with the PoW algorithm used.

(req'd)February 13, 2018 4:33 PM

@Clive

Is any coin NOT wasting that POW by cracking actual data in a distributed computing platform?

If they could do that it wouldn't be work-for-work's-proof-sake, which is kind of a waste really.

vas pupFebruary 14, 2018 9:00 AM

Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life':
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-43056744
“Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) wants to expand operations at two observatories.However, it has found that key computer chips are in short supply.
"We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em," said Dan Werthimer.
Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining.
[!!!]GPUs are versatile, he added, pointing out that cyber-security experts sometimes use them for password-cracking experiments, in which computers make many millions of attempts at breaking into a system.”

(req'd)February 14, 2018 12:39 PM

Vas Pup you beat me to it!

If they could only be hashing real data woven into the crypto chain it wouldn't all be wasted cycles.

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