A Canadian university had to shut down its entire campus network after it discovered hackers had hijacked its computing power to surreptitiously mine cryptocurrency – Bitcoin, to be exact.
In a statement released earlier this week, Nova Scotia-based St. Francis Xavier University revealed the hackers snuck in malicious software on its servers to run their crypto-jacking operation. Its technical team first detected the attack last Thursday.
“In consultation with security specialists, [we] 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 statement reads.
Fortunately, the university claims no personal information was compromised as part of the attack. Still though, it caused quite a bit of trouble on campus.
Among other things, the statement suggests the network shutdown made it impossible to use wi-fi or make debit transactions. The university says it is still recovering from the attack, but expects its services will be back up and running shortly.
The crypto-jacking epidemic
There’s been a bevy of crypto-jacking attacks on institutions over the past several months. Back in February, UK researchers found tons of infected government sites mining Monero. More recently, it came to light many hackers had also quietly hijacked Indian government sites to mine cryptocurrency.
Hackers are hardly the only ones to have piggybacked off university networks.
Back in 2014 , an anonymous student at University College London used campus computers to mine 30,000 Dogecoin (about $25 bucks at the time). We saw a similar trend earlier this year, with numerous university students admitting to utilizing their dorm rooms to run micro-scale Ethereum and Bitcoin mining operations.
By contrast, research from RWTH Aachen University indicated Monero crypto-jackers are making about $250,000 each month.
(via Live Bitcoin News)