Prevalence of unauthorized use of other networks to mine Bitcoins illegally is certainly a thing of the past. In spite of this, few stray incidences reported from different parts of the world confirm that these activities may still be going on. 

Proliferation of illicit Bitcoin mining

As per reports, a bank from Rome was shocked to find that cyber criminals had succeeded in breaking into its seemingly robust network defenses and were busy mining Bitcoins for free. Such events call for swift reporting capabilities in addition to a seamless ability to detect network intrusion by leveraging cutting edge SIEM (Security Information Event Management) software. These measures can be implemented to successfully block unwanted intruders from getting entry inside the network and a multitude of illegal activities. 

Mining has been the most preferred way to earn Bitcoins since the advent of the most popular crypto-currency. Mining of Bitcoins involves leveraging a massive compute power to solve highly complex mathematical problems in the shortest possible time. Obviously, ordinary run of the mill PCs cannot be expected to achieve such a feat. 

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Illegal Bitcoin Mining or DDoS Attacks

Modern technology has helped development of advanced ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Chips) that are exclusively designed for problem solving applications. These unique computers are built for special purpose of executing these functions. Although these are relatively smaller machines, they guzzle massive power, which may not prove to be feasible for the value of Bitcoins that would be produced. 

Bitcoin miners are always in search of free electrical power and one of the luckier miners was able to steal power from his father’s power plant in Austria. For the majority of common Bitcoin miners, the only way to save on electricity is by procuring energy efficient ASICs One of the most talked about Bitcoin mining processors, Bitmain’s Antminer S7 has been able to generate a large number of positive reviews. 

Considering the huge cost of owning the hardware, average ROI, and price of electricity, Bitcoin miners have to focus on higher processing power as well as energy efficiency.  

Risk assessment

It is reported by MacAfee that there is hardly any reward for cyber criminals to generate desired Bitcoins by purchasing or building botnets if one looks at the risk to reward calculations. This also applies to the cases where resources were illegally procured or stolen. In such cases, hackers need to hack an ever growing number of computers thereby impacting the payoff severely. In addition to this, the footprint created by botnets can be easily indentified and the network admins would be quick to remove these from the infected machines. 

There is a continuous quest for free meals by hackers who are searching for more rewarding ways to reduce costs of Bitcoin mining. It is extremely difficult to detect hacker’ activities and only some top of the line cyber security companies such as Darktrace from UK have the required capabilities to identify illegal activities. They were able to identify and pinpoint such activity in the case of a Roman bank that suffered data intrusion through a server to unidentified networks. 

Illegal use of networks

In one of the network experiments, two hackers belonging to the white hat hackers community were able to mine Litecoins, which is a cryptic currency similar to Bitcoin. They could achieve this with the only support of free accounts trials that are routinely offered by application hosting service providers.  

Surprisingly, their hack was able to generate more than $1750 a week without even being noticed by anyone. All it took was a large array of machines with no SIEM or even a security. The botnet used by the duo was cloud based and was able to mine twenty-five cents on every day. Their only objective was to drive home a point that mining of crypto-currency can be easily performed without getting noticed and without spending a fortune. 

The more disturbing extrapolation of this experiment could be the use of their freemium botnet for attacking with help of Google or Amazon IP addresses that would be impossible to block. The attack could be in the form of DDoS to make things even worse. 

Intrusion detection strategies

Some of the experienced and established security providers such as Darktrace have been able to detect broad range of anomalies such as a network intrusion attempt by any botnet. Network monitoring by use of SIEM software for discrepancies in behavior of networks and red flags that can point to suspicious activities is an ideal strategy to detect any attempts of intrusion. These strategies can only sfforded by large organizations.

In case of new or small organizations, SIEM software can always be outsourced from third party providers. This software can ideally be used for monitoring mission critical servers for prevention of botnets that seem to proliferate at exponential rates.

In conclusion

Unless you design a robust network protection strategy it will be impossible to prevent cybercriminals who are working overtime to launch a DDoS attack or use your network for illegal Bitcoin mining.

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