Government websites becomes victims of cryptocurrency mining hijack
01:21, Feb 15, 2018
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Thousands of websites, including those belonging to NHS services, the Student Loans Company and several English councils, have been infected by malware that forces visitors' computers to mine cryptocurrency while using the site. A full investigation is now underway, and Martin McKay, CTO and Data Security Officer at the company said: "In light of other recent cyber attacks all over the world, we have been preparing for such an incident for the a year ago and our data security action plan was actioned straight away". The Queensland government's legislation website, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Victorian Parliament were reportedly affected.
An IT security consultant, Scott Helme, raised the alarm after his friend received an alert from his anti-virus software after visiting a government website.
In a report last month, cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike highlighted the rise of cryptocurrency mining, a relatively new flavor of attack.
Their aim is thought to be to take control of unsuspecting users' machines and use them to mine Monero, a crypto-currency and rival to Bitcoin. It inserts the code for Coinhive'sMonero miner into it, meaning sites using the plugin were serving up the mining code without realizing it.
Many other organisations' websites were also affected, from the United States courts website to the UK Financial Ombudsman Service.
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Government websites in other countries were also affected, Helme noted.
A spokesperson from the NCSC said it is "examining data involving incidents of malware being used to illegally mine cryptocurrency".
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