Major security vulnerabilities have been exposed in a new spate of attacks aimed at a variety of websites and organisations, with cybercriminals compromising vast computing resources so as to improve their own cryptocurrency mining capabilities.
Cryptocurrencies have become increasingly popular and thus significantly more valuable in recent years, with Bitcoin leading the way and upstarts like Monero building upon their success. And in order to accrue them in larger amounts, many individuals and groups have set up ‘mining’ operations.
Mining for cryptocurrencies becomes exponentially complex over time, meaning more and more processing capacity is required to keep these operations running. And while this forces some people to give up entirely, or invest in additional hardware resources, less scrupulous miners are hacking websites and secretly exploiting them for their own ends –http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-41518351.
The hacked sites, which include those used by charities and educational bodies as well as businesses, are often used to run Coin Hive, a mining script that is often used entirely legitimately. But security experts at Trend Micro detected the presence of this code on sites that seemed to have no link to this practice whatsoever. Upon alerting the organisations in question to the fact that this code was embedded in their sites, many erased it and made changes to their security to prevent similar hacks proving to be successful in the future.
It is not just websites which are being corralled into mining for cryptocurrencies without the knowledge of their owners, but also mods for video games, cloud computing resources and a wide range of other connected services and devices.
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Cryptocurrencies rely in part on many people effectively racing against one another to find the solution to a complex mathematical problem. The first person past the post unlocks more of the currency itself, so there is clearly a motivation for cybercriminals to continue trying to steal resources from others in order to achieve this. All site owners should be aware of the risks they face as a result and take appropriate precautions to avoid exploitation.