Posted on by Or Rikon
A group of researchers recently published a paper claiming that bitcoin can act as an ideal C&C for botnets.
Using this method, operators are able to piggyback communications onto Bitcoin’s network by relaying messages to bots by embedding them in Bitcoin transactions. This offers various costs savings to the operator by removing the need to maintain an actual server for the bots to communicate with.
That said, it’s worth keeping in mind Bitcoin transactions incur a fee, which would merit a deeper cost analysis of this scheme, and perhaps making this as a very resilient backup to a conventional C&C server.
Bitcoin nodes maintain a decentralized blockchain, also known as a distributed transaction log, which alleviates the need for bot-to-bot communication, possibly making it impossible to estimate the actual size of the botnet.
The most important advantage is that C&C communication via bitcoin’s network can never be disrupted by simply taking down a few servers or poisoning a group of routing tables, because bitcoin’s network is designed to resist such forms of attacks.
It is also worth mentioning the recent rise of Ethereum and whether it can have any significant advantages over Bitcoin for this use-case, due to it’s use of Smart Contracts.