A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) botnet targeting servers used by the Electrum bitcoin wallet reached 152,000 infected hosts at the end of April.

Malwarebytes began tracking this DDoS botnet and its attacks against Electrum’s infrastructure in the spring of 2019. On April 24, the number of infected machines serving the botnet numbered just below 100,000. The next day, its bot count reached 152,000. This total then fluctuated before settling back down to around 100,000 compromised machines.

According to Malwarebytes’ analysis, the majority of these infected computers are located in the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, most of the bots found in the Americas were located in Peru and Brazil.

Earlier in April, Malwarebytes observed attackers using two campaigns to drop ElectrumDoSMiner, the malware that is helping to fuel this botnet. One of those operations involved the RIG exploit kit, while the other used the Smoke Loader malware downloader. Even so, the security firm’s more recent report revealed that threat actors are also now using a previously undocumented loader called Trojan.BeamWinHTTP to help distribute ElectrumDoSMiner.

Putting the Electrum Attacks Into Context

This DDoS botnet is part of an ongoing assault against owners of Electrum bitcoin wallets. As reported by ZDNet, the siege began back in December 2018 when bad actors tricked users into installing a malicious wallet update by exploiting a flaw in Electrum’s software. Attackers then used this fake fix to steal more than 200 bitcoin from affected users in the matter of a week. In total, these actors have stolen the bitcoin equivalent of approximately $4.6 million as of Malwarebytes’ latest report.

In February, Electrum’s developers fought back by exploiting the same flaw to redirect users to install a patched version of the Electrum software. It was this move that likely prompted attackers to retaliate by launching the botnet and targeting Electrum’s servers, as Malwarebytes posited in its mid-April article. These DDoS attacks effectively overwhelmed Electrum’s legitimate nodes so that users had no choice but to connect to the malicious ones.

How to Defend Against a DDoS Botnet

Security professionals can help their organizations defend against a DDoS botnet by creating a secure perimeter around their cloud infrastructure. This perimeter should consist of next-generation firewalls, DDoS traffic scrubbing and anomaly detection. Security teams should also consider enlisting the help of artificial intelligence to improve their organization’s anti-malware defenses and their own effectiveness.

More from

Who Carries the Weight of a Cyberattack?

Almost immediately after a company discovers a data breach, the finger-pointing begins. Who is to blame? Most often, it is the chief information security officer (CISO) or chief security officer (CSO) because protecting the network infrastructure is their job. Heck, it is even in their job title: they are the security officer. Security is their responsibility. But is that fair – or even right? After all, the most common sources of data breaches and other cyber incidents are situations caused…

Transitioning to Quantum-Safe Encryption

With their vast increase in computing power, quantum computers promise to revolutionize many fields. Artificial intelligence, medicine and space exploration all benefit from this technological leap — but that power is also a double-edged sword. The risk is that threat actors could abuse quantum computers to break the key cryptographic algorithms we depend upon for the safety of our digital world. This poses a threat to a wide range of critical areas. Fortunately, alternate cryptographic algorithms that are safe against…

Abuse of Privilege Enabled Long-Term DIB Organization Hack

From November 2021 through January 2022, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) responded to an advanced cyberattack on a Defense Industrial Base (DIB) organization’s enterprise network. During that time frame, advanced persistent threat (APT) adversaries used an open-source toolkit called Impacket to breach the environment and further penetrate the organization’s network. Even worse, CISA reported that multiple APT groups may have hacked into the organization’s network. Data breaches such as these are almost always the result of compromised endpoints…

How Do You Plan to Celebrate National Computer Security Day?

In October 2022, the world marked the 19th Cybersecurity Awareness Month. October might be over, but employers can still talk about awareness of digital threats. We all have another chance before then: National Computer Security Day. The History of National Computer Security Day The origins of National Computer Security Day trace back to 1988 and the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control. As noted by National Today, those in…