Over 5,000 websites, including the UK Student Loans Company, the United States Courts page, and some English council’s sites, were infected with the malware known as Coinhive, to hijack the processing power of personal electronic devices in order to mine cryptocurrency.
According to the Guardian “The cryptojacking script was inserted into website codes through BrowseAloud, a popular plugin that helps blind and partially-sighted people access the web.” Hacking of personal computers for mining purposes has increased with the uptick in cryptocurrency trading due to Bitcoin hitting the $19,000 mark in December.
Security researcher Scott Helme stated that “This type of attack isn’t new – but this is the biggest I’ve seen. A single company being hacked has meant thousands of sites impacted across the UK, Ireland and the United States. Someone just messaged me to say their local government website in Australia is using the software as well.”
BrowseAloud’s creators at Texthelp have disabled BrowseAloud so that it can investigate the malware.
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