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Thousands of websites hijacked to mine cryptocurrency

12 February 2018, 09:37 | Melvin Schneider

Image The ICO also took its site down

The ICO also took its site down

At the time of publication on Monday, the Queensland legislation website had taken the further step of removing the Browsealoud script entirely, but it remained on the sites of the Victorian parliament, QCAT and the Queensland ombudsman.

Just last week Apple and Android systems were infected with similar mining malware, and the frequency of exploits such as this will only increase due to the gains to be made and lack of any prosecution. The sites of UK's own data protection watchdog and UK's National Health Service were supposedly hit along with other websites.

"We don't know how Texthelp were compromised yet, so it is hard to say whether they were really unlucky or there was some kind of inherent problem with what they were doing".

Government sites like the UK's Information Commissioner's Office also took pages down in response. The website plug-in helps people with dyslexia, low vision and low literacy use the Internet.

The makers of Browsealoud, Texthelp, confirmed that hackers inserted a script known as Coinhive into their software.

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Coinhive is a cryptojacking script that works by turning the computers of site visitors into crypto mining rigs, potentially giving the hackers access to the processing power of millions of machines.

Texthelp told The Register that it had shut down the operation by disabling Browsealoud while its engineering team investigated.

"If you want to load a crypto miner on 1000+ websites you don't attack 1000+ websites, you attack the 1 website that they all load content from", Helme said. An analysis suggested that the software was online for about four hours before Texthelp acted.

At 11:14 am GMT on Sunday 11th February 2018, a JavaScript file which is part of the Texthelp Browsealoud product was compromised during a cyber attack.

The National Cyber Security Centre in the United Kingdom has given an official statement on the matter, assuring people that "Government websites continue to operate securely", further stating that "there is nothing to suggest that members of the public are at risk".



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