Canadian University Shuts Down Network to Stop Bitcoin Cryptojacking Attack
Reports have surfaced that a Canadian University has shut down its entire network due to a mass cryptojacking attack. Malicious crypto mining software remains a growing threat, affecting personal computers and in some cases, entire businesses across the globe. St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia is one of the first major universities to come under attack.
Bitcoin Cryptojacking Attack
Live Bitcoin News reports that last week, St. Francis Xavier University was forced to shut down its entire computer network due to crypto mining hackers. The cryptojacking malware infecting the network was secretly using the university’s computing power to mine the world’s most popular cryptocurrency–Bitcoin. The university reports having to shut down the network due to the threat that private information of students and staff was in danger of being compromised.
According to an open letter posted on the school’s website:
“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.”
Due to the network shut down, a number of key services have gone offline at St. Francis Xavier’s campus, including online courses, email, and debit card transactions. Campus Wi-Fi and university storage drives also went completely offline. Services are now slowly being restored, and campus administrators have put together a guide for students and staff to reset their network passwords and re-secure their personal information.
While reports of cryptojacking attacks are, unfortunately, not unusual, it is interesting that in this case the hackers are reported to have been using St. Francis Xavier’s network to mine Bitcoin. Typically, we find that crypto hackers opt to pursue coins like Monero, due to the token’s privacy features. A report published in June found that at least 5 percent of Monero (totaling $175 million in value at time of publishing) had been mined on computers unknowingly infected with malware-mining software. A little over a month after this data was published, a new report came out which confirmed that 200,000 routers in Brazil had been infected with crypotojacking malware in less than a week.
In response to growing concerns of this nature, Monero’s development team announced in late September the launch of a malware response workgroup website intended to address the platform’s rampant digital crime. Meanwhile, Internet browsing platforms like Firefox and Opera have released new updates with encoded cryptojacking malware blockers to protect users.
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