Australian sites among thousands hacked to include mining script
Feb 15, 2018, 01:20
The hackers managed to perform this scam by installing malware into websites which then means that, nameless to them, visitors' computers are put to work mining cryptocurrencies.
Scott Helme, a UK-based security researcher who discovered the malware, said government websites could have done more to prevent the attack.
Upon further examination, he realised that the Browsealoud website plug-in, which helps the blind and partially sighted access the Internet, was responsible for the warning. At least 5,000 websites have been affected by a variant of the Coinhive mining script, which allows the leeching of resources from the hardware of their readers.
A spokesperson for the HSE said the organisation had taken the necessary steps to minimise the risk from the attack.
The UK's data protection website is one of many infected by the malware.
"This was a very serious breach", he adds. "It was only limited by the hackers' imaginations", security researcher.
Digging into the matter, he quickly realised that the compromised script, while hosted by the ICO website, was actually part of a third-party provider: the popular plugin Browsealoud.
The ICO subsequently closed its website when the issue was revealed, the report indicates.
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Mining for cryptocurrencies is the process by which new "coins" are made.
More than 4,000 websites are said to have been hacked, including the IN state government's website, the United States Courts' website and many UK government, ones such as the ICO, but the affected code had now been disabled, the BBC reports.
Amongst the affected government websites were the Student Loans Company, the Information Commissioner's Office, Manchester City Council and Croydon Council. Embedded in all of the affected sites, TextHelp'sBrowseAloud software offers accessibility services to those with visual or literacy impairments who are browsing the web.
"In recent months, CrowdStrike has noticed an uptick in cyberattacks focused on cryptocurrency-mining malware that takes advantage of available CPU cycles, without authorization, to make money", the firm wrote, noting that it "expects to see much more" of this activity moving through 2018.
Texthelp stated that it had disabled Browsealoud and shut down the operation as its engineering team investigated the issue.
Government sites in the United States were not immune either, as the country's main website for court information, uscourts.gov, was also affected.
Texthelp's chief technology officer Martin McKay has released a statement, saying the compromise was a criminal act. Notably, though, they said that "there is nothing to suggest that members of the public are at risk" at this stage.
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