United Kingdom government affected by crypto mining malware

The code in purple is malicioius. Pic Scott Helme

The code in purple is malicioius. Pic Scott Helme

The Queensland Government legislation website appears to be among the Australian sites affected.

In a hack of unprecedented scope, thousands of government websites around the world have been compromised as part of a criminal scheme to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero, which like Bitcoin and Ethereum is blockchain based, but with a greater focus on transaction privacy.

In December The Guardian reported that almost 1 billion visitors to the video sites Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo and OnlineVideoConverter were also being crypto-jacked. The Queensland legislation website had taken further steps to get rid of the malicious script.

Among the websites affected in Britain were those belonging to the NHS, the Information Commissioner's Office, several English council sites and the UK's Student Loans Company.

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 UK's National Cyber Security Centre is investigating the incident.

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"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". The more processing power it has access to, such as via thousands of browsers on thousands of websites, the easier it is to generate cryptocurrency. Texthelp took the Browsealoud plugin offline on Monday morning.

"When you load software like this from a third party, that third party can change it and make it do whatever they want", he said. "The exploit was active for a period of four hours on Sunday". It has the ability to utilise computer power to mine Monero when the browser window was loaded.

"Texthelp has in place continuous automated security tests for Browsealoud, and these detected the modified file and as a result the product was taken offline". "At this stage there is nothing to suggest that members of the public are at risk".

Helme documented the attack on his website, while Texthelp said an investigation was under way.

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