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Network Visibility Product Incorporates Bitcoin Pooled Mining Detection

Op-ed - Network Visibility Product Incorporates Bitcoin Pooled Mining Detection

Bitcoin is gaining popularity. Although the price has declined, people are still asking about and joining the ‘mining frenzy’ with increasingly capable hardware. In fact, the current aggregate hashrate of the Bitcoin network is topping a staggering >200,000,000 GH/s.

Remember that the profitability of mining depends on not only the necessary investment in hardware, but, most importantly, in the recurring cost of the energy required to power mining rigs.

The world is full of people who are willing to game any system for an expected personal profit. Unsurprisingly, there is a trend of individuals engaging in what is called ‘illicit bitcoin mining’, which is, essentially, borrowing computing resources and stealing power to mine for bitcoin.

There are known cases of malware authors who install hidden miners in unsuspecting Internet-using computers all around the globe (see here and here).

Other individuals steal power or computing resources from their employers (see here and here).

How do we solve this problem?

The ultimate way to thwart illicit bitcoin mining in corporate infrastructures is by accounting for power consumption. However, Barcelona-based startup Network Polygraph offers a cloud-based network monitoring solution, which could offer an alternative solution.

Josep Sanjuas, CEO of the company that commercializes Network Polygraph, states: “Rather than focusing on power consumption, pooled bitcoin mining can be detected by checking for certain patterns in network traffic.”

Network Polygraph provides network visibility, which helps network managers understand what is happening in their network in order to better manage it. For example, it produces bandwidth usage charts, flags the IP addresses that generate most traffic, and detects network-based attacks.

As part of its core features, Network Polygraph determines which applications have generated network traffic by using complex machine-learning based methods. Its creators have recently incorporated Bitcoin mining detection to their product and it is already reporting illicit mining activities in customer networks.

“We were surprised when Network Polygraph started flagging mining activities in our customers’ networks,” explains Sanjuas. “We expected we would catch some bitcoin-related activity, but we ended up uncovering an illicit Bitcoin miner that had been operating for months,” he continues to explain.

“We are not allowed to disclose much about these cases for obvious reasons, but we expect illicit mining to become a greater problem as bitcoin keeps becoming more mainstream.”

Sanjuas explains that “to our best knowledge, [Network Polygraph] is the first network visibility product that features bitcoin mining detection.” He clarifies that bitcoin mining detection is not the main selling point of Network Polygraph’s product line, but “just another way [the company] can justify its cost, besides regular usage for network operations, troubleshooting or capacity planning.”

It is important to note that Network Polygraph supports bitcoin usage, and promises to “work out a solution” if customers wish to pay in bitcoin for their services.

For more information on Network Polygraph or to explore their business in more depth, please visit