Science

Thousands of websites hijacked to mine cryptocurrency

Thousands of websites hijacked to mine cryptocurrency

Some of the other sites Helme listed were ICO, the UK's independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, the Student Loan Company in the United Kingdom, the General Medical Council in the United Kingdom, the NHS, and the USA courts website.

The Queensland ombudsman's official website, the Queensland legislation website and the Queensland Community Legal Centre homepage were also impacted by the cryptojacking attack, The Guardian reported.

Malicious code for software known as "Coinhive", a program advertising itself as "A Crypto Miner for your Website" would start running in the background until the webpage is closed.

Hackers inserted a script called Coinhive, the makers of Browsealoud, Texthelp, has confirmed.

"Someone just messaged me to say their local government website in Australia is using the software as well".




The BrowseAloud service was taken offline on Monday by Texthelp, with the company stating in a blog post that the hacking was a criminal act and was being investigated.

"When you load software like this from a third party, that third party can change it and make it do whatever they want", he said. Coinhive hijacks the processing power of a user's computer to mine the cryptocurrency Monero.

"But there were ways the government sites could have protected themselves from this". Over the weekend, the website of the UK's data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office, was taken offline to deal with the infection. "It may have been hard for a small website, but I would have thought on a government website we should have expected these defence mechanisms to be in place". Hackers are able to generate profit through crypto-jacking.

"This removed Browsealoud from all our customer sites immediately, addressing the security risk", he said.

While the computers of countless people were likely used by the attackers to mine the cryptocurrency, it appears that site visitors are completely in the clear, with Texthelp reporting "no customer data has been accessed or lost".