Impatient PC gamers have found themselves to be the latest victims in the growing field of Bitcoin botnets, which have hijacked their machines in order to mine the popular virtual currency.
The botnets were apparently secretly bundled with a leaked advance copy of the highly-anticipated game Watch Dogs, which was released earlier this week for PC, as well as on the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 and Xbox One consoles.
This leaked version began appearing on many torrenting sites last weekend, offering those that were unwilling to wait for the official May 27 release date to spend their hard-earned cash were offered a cheaper option.
Upon installing the files, however, gamers found that their machines were hit with slow performance, buggy graphics and frequent crashing. The source of the trouble was quickly identified as a bogus 'winlogin.exe' file, (similar to the standard winlogon.exe), which was using as much as 25% of the CPU processing power in order to mine for Bitcoins.
One version of the torrent gained almost 40,000 active users and was downloaded a further 18,440 times on upon its release on one site alone, The Register reported, meaning many more gamers could be at risk as the files get shared further.
Those affected by the botnet have been advised to delete the affected files, as well as software located in a folder called OaPja, and run a thorough malware scan.
Working on its own, a moderately powerful gaming computer, which typically features more RAM and processing power than an everyday machine, focusing solely on one task, could generate one Bitcoin (worth around $550) in around a hundred days. Linking together several PCs into a botnet, therefore, would greatly speed up the process, making this a very lucrative option for malware authors.
Bitcoin has hugely grown in popularity since its launch, but this has not been without worries surrounding the legality of the crypto-currency. Earlier this week, authorities in the US said they were stepping up the monitoring of several Bitcoin exchanges following suspicions their trades could be funding the infamous underworld crime site Silk Road.
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