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12 February 2018, 09:06 | Joann Bryant
Image The code in purple is malicioius. Pic Scott Helme
More than 4000 websites, including many belonging to governments around the world, were hijacked this weekend by hackers who managed to plant CoinHive code created to exploit the computer power of visiting PCs and mine for cryptocurrency.
The plug-in had been tampered with to add a program, Coinhive, which "mines" for Monero by running processor-intensive calculations on visitors' computers.
"Someone just messaged me to say their local government website in Australia is using the software as well". Trócaire, the Irish aid agency, and the Department of Agriculture were also listed on the database.
In December The Guardianreported that almost 1 billion visitors to the video sites Openload, Streamango, Rapidvideo and OnlineVideoConverter were also being crypto-jacked.
Some of the other sites Helme listed were ICO, the UK's independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, the Student Loan Company in the United Kingdom, the General Medical Council in the United Kingdom, the NHS, and the U.S. courts website.
The makers of Browsealoud, Texthelp, confirmed that hackers inserted a script known as Coinhive into their software. 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. 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.
"If you want to load a crypto miner on 1,000+ websites you don't attack 1,000+ websites, you attack the 1 website that they all load content from", Helme wrote on his blog.
Texthelp's chief technology officer Martin McKay has released a statement, saying the compromise was a criminal act.
The Queensland government's main site for its legislation has been hijacked, as have websites belonging to the likes of Queensland Urban Utilities, the Victorian parliament, and South Australia's City of Unley.
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