UPDATED 23:12 EST / DECEMBER 06 2015


Bitcoin stolen via malware-infected pirated copy of Fallout 4

Various industry bodies over the years have tried all sorts of scare tactics in relation to piracy, up to and including taking people to court, but what if your pirated item ended up stealing Bitcoin?

That’s exactly what happened to one Reddit user who had downloaded a pirated copy of hit game Fallout 4 in November.

Op arkanoah wrote in a Reddit post that he’d had 4.88 Bitcoin ($1,912.76 as of the time of writing) stolen on November 11 from his Bitcoin wallet the day after Fallout 4 was released.

Members of Reddit’s r/Bitcoin community asked if the copy of Fallout 4 had been downloaded illegally, and when the answer was in the affirmative concluded that the likely scenario was that the pirated copy included malware that allowed an attacker to gain access to arkanoah’s machine and copy his Bitcoin wallet file to an external machine, before using brute force to crack the password to access the wallet to steal the Bitcoin.

Depending on which way you look at it, Op was either a complete fool or was at least trying to practice safe Internet, with him noting that his virus scanner didn’t detect any malware, to which another user replied, “Tell me something, kemosabe. If I custom write a virus, right now, do you think your antivirus program will catch it? Why or why not?”

Arkanoah replied that he believed it would due to heuristic analysis, to which others all replied in the negative.

According to Geek.com, a subsequent trace of the stolen funds across the Bitcoin Blockchain (all transactions are public) saw the 4.88 BTC hit one Bitcoin wallet where they were subsequently split up, mixed with more Bitcoin, and then distributed across even more wallets, making it impossible to trace.

Bitcoin malware

The case isn’t the only negative relationship between Fallout 4 and Bitcoin, with one thread on Reddit suggesting that pirated copies of the game are also being made available online bundled with malware Bitcoin mining software; while we can’t confirm this as a fact, it’s highly likely as Bitcoin miners have been bundled as malware with other games previously.

Although we don’t want to sound preachy or even worse advocating the likes of the RIAA, the irony of the situation here is that Op, in this case, could have purchased Fallout 4 for far, far less than the amount he had stolen, and he could have made that purchase in Bitcoin as well.

For Bitcoin users themselves, the other takeaway is that when you manage your own wallet, there’s no insurance in place should something like this occur; it’s a balance between the privacy self-managed wallets provide versus the added security and insurance offered by online Bitcoin wallet providers.

Image credit: 30478819@N08/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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