Cyber thieves have never done anything else than stealing, but they are getting more creative. A new phenomenon within the cybercrime world is a special kind of malware that spreads through Skype, and tells your computer to mine Bitcoin. Not extremely harmful for the victim, except for the energy bill that will be considerably higher when his computer has been mining Bitcoin without him knowing.
It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Mining pools are simple distributed computing networks, and only require you GPU to calculate a hash, and send it somewhere.
Stealing computing power
It’s interesting to think about other possibilities, so we can know what to look out for. Since mining Bitcoin is a simple action to take for any computer, it doesn’t take much to tell a computer to do so. Imagine a webpage with a collection of funny pictures, you can spend hours on such a page. If that page contains a piece of code that does the same thing as this Mining-Malware, it could potentially (with a few thousands of visitors and a few months) mine a new block.
Having your computing power stolen is of course less of a problem than having your Bitcoin stolen, however, we have to take reasonability. When everybody makes the same mistake, one cracker can steal a lot of Bitcoin, which will do no good for the Bitcoin economy.