Australian sites compromised by malware that forces visitors' computers to mine cryptocurrency

UK ICO, USCourts.gov… Thousands of websites hijacked by hidden crypto-mining code after popular plugin hacked

A list of 4,200-plus affected websites can be found here: they include The City University of NY (cuny.edu), Uncle Sam's court information portal (uscourts.gov), Lund University (lu.se), the UK's Student Loans Company (slc.co.uk), privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner's Office (ico.org.uk) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (financial-ombudsman.org.uk), plus a shedload of other.gov.uk and.gov.au sites, UK NHS services, and other organisations across the globe.

The hack comes less than a year after the "Wannacry" cyber attack that disrupted computers belonging to more than a third of NHS trusts.

As well as the ICO website, the hacked script was found running on the site of the Student Loans Company, Barnsley Hospital and other websites in the United Kingdom and worldwide.

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

On Monday morning, Texthelp took the Browsealoud plug-in offline, which meant that new visitors to the affected sites would no longer load the crypto-jacking script.

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Security researcher Scott Helme today published his discovery of 4275 government websites across the globe that have been hijacked by Coinhive.

"But there were ways the government sites could have protected themselves from this".

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) -said: 'NCSC technical experts are examining data involving incidents of malware being used to illegally mine cryptocurrency.

The Browsealoud service has been temporarily taken offline and the security breach has already been addressed. Offloading those costs to random web users by injecting miners into other peoples' websites, an attack called cryptojacking, has quickly become widespread and prior attacks are estimated to have generated hundreds of thousands in profits for hackers. Government websites continue to operate securely. "The company has examined the affected file thoroughly and can confirm that it did not redirect any data, it simply used the computers CPUs [central processing unit] to attempt to generate cryptocurrency".

"The exploit was active for a period of four hours on Sunday". According to a recently published post by TextHelp, the company has stated that an attacker compromised the BrowseAloud script, but no other TextHelp services were affected.

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