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Bitcoin heist: Cyber thieves take hundreds of thousands of virtual currencies

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A Bitcoin heist just recently happened and a band of cyber thieves used a whole host of infected computers to make off with over $220,000 worth of Bitcoins and a number of other virtual currencies. Yahoo News reported on Feb. 24, 2014, that security firm Trustware said the Bitcoin heist was accomplished by the computers using a malware program code-named "Pony."

At least 700,000 people and computers were affected by Pony, and that gave control of the accounts over to the thieves in the Bitcoin heist.

SEE: Bitcoin Ponzi-scheme alleged as Texas man charged

The botnet of computers stole 100,000 email account credentials from users and the website login credentials of 600,000. Other account information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and more was also compromised.

The scheme "collected approximately $220,000 worth, at time of writing, of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, LiteCoin, FeatherCoin and 27 others," said a blog post from researchers Daniel Chechik and Anat Davidi.

"According to our data, the cyber gang that was operating this Pony botnet was active between September 2013 and mid-January 2014."

Bitcoin, and other virtual currency, value has continued to rise as more people begin using them. That is expected to go up now that a number of worldwide ATM machines can provide them.

Trustwave has said that Bitcoins make theft a bit easier though, and it isn't like attempting to take solid cash that is kept in banks or on someone's person.

"Bitcoins are stored in virtual wallets, which are essentially pairs of private and public keys," the Trustwave researchers said, adding that whoever has those keys can take the currency.

"Stealing Bitcoins and exchanging them for another currency, even a regulated one such as US dollars, is much easier than stealing money from a bank."

Overall, 85 virtual wallets were overtaken in the Bitcoin heist that Pony ruled. It also wasn't the first time that the Pony malware was used as it was put into play last year to steal login information for social media and email sites.

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