Government websites hit by cryptocurrency mining malware

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Thousands of websites in the UK and USA, some of which belonged to government agencies, were infected with cryptocurrency mining malware at the weekend.

According to a report on The Register, the parties behind this hack targeted websites that use a plug-in called Browsealoud, which reads webpages out aloud for people whose sight is impaired.

It’s unknown at this stage whether Browsealoud’s code – made by Texthelp – was compromised by insiders or hackers on the outside, but The Register reports that those responsible used the plug-in as a backdoor to inject Coinhive Monero miner into any website using it.

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.

In the US the court’s portal, The City University of New York’s website and Lund University’s website were targeted. Here’s a full list of the websites that were affected by the hack.

Texthelp for its part, took its websites down and withdrew the plug-in while it worked on a solution to the problem.

“In light of other recent cyber attacks all over the world, we have been preparing for such an incident for the last year and our data security action plan was actioned straight away,” Texthelp’s CTO Martin McKay told The Register.

“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.”

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said the issue was being investigated, and there was nothing to suggest the public was at risk.

[Source: The Register]