The focus on cryptocurrency mining is on large corporations that have entire farms devoted to digging for digital gold. Yet there is a good deal of profit to be made from illicit crypto mining that uses somebody else’s system. Cryptojacking has been a popular choice for hackers, and a university in Nova Scotia found itself to be a target of such an attack recently.
Late last week, St. Francis Xavier University was the victim of a cryptojacking attack. A hacker (or hackers) targeted the university’s computer system to mine for the world’s number one cryptocurrency.
The attack forced the university to shut down their network completely to safeguard personal data for students and staff. In a statement, the university said:
On Thursday, ITS, in consultation with security specialists, purposefully disabled all network systems in response to what we learned to be to be an automated attack on our systems known as ‘crytpocoin mining.’ The malicious software attempted to utilize StFX’s collective computing power in order to create or discover bitcoin for monetary gain. At this time, there is no evidence that any personal information within our network was breached, however, ITS will continue to analyze and monitor for suspicious activity in the days and weeks ahead. ITS has also implemented heightened security measures in response to this event.
Needless to say, quite a few services were impacted by this. Online courses, email, debit card transactions, Wi-Fi, and drives on the St. F.X. network were all completely offline. Since then, services have been increasingly restored. St. Francis Xavier University notes that all passwords have been reset due to security concerns.
It is interesting that the university notes the mining hack was used for Bitcoin, which is unusual. Most hackers seek more privacy-focused coins, such as Monero, to mine for their digital coffers.
Still, cryptojacking is a problem that shows no signs of abating. As we increasingly live in a digital world with many objects now connected to the internet, the phenomenon of illicit mining is just going to grow. In fact, researchers recently found that more than 280,000 routers worldwide were infected with cryptocurrency mining malware.
Such attacks have a major impact upon the systems infected as resources are gobbled up to run the mining malware. If the network for St. Francis Xavier University was damaged, it’s likely it would be extremely costly to repair, not to mention the headache of lost data and inability for students to log in for online courses.
Have you ever been the victim of a cryptojacking attack? Let us know in the comments below.
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