UK Authorities web site goes offline after hack

UK government websites shut down as hackers infect thousands of pages with Bitcoin-like mining software

UK government websites shut down as hackers infect thousands of pages with Bitcoin-like mining software

The Queensland ombudsman's official website, the Queensland legislation website and the Queensland Community Legal Centre homepage were also impacted by the cryptojacking attack, The Guardian reported.

Among the websites affected in Britain were those belonging to the NHS, the Information Commissioner's Office, several English council sites and the UK's Student Loans Company.

Security researcher Scott Helme discovered the hack when a pal mentioned getting antivirus alerts on a UK Government website.

Hackers exploited a vulnerability in the popular browser plug-in Browsealoud, a programme that converts website text to audio for visually impaired users. The sites of UK's own data protection watchdog and UK's National Health Service were supposedly hit along with other websites. 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.

Texthelp told The Register that it had shut down the operation by disabling Browsealoud while its engineering team investigated.

At 11:14 am GMT on Sunday 11th February 2018, a JavaScript file which is part of the Texthelp Browsealoud product was compromised during a cyber attack.

There were ways the government sites could have protected themselves from this.

Just last week Apple and Android systems were infected with similar mining malware, and the frequency of exploits such as this will only increase due to the gains to be made and lack of any prosecution.

The Queensland Government legislation website appears to be among the Australian sites affected. "It may have been hard for a small website, but I would have thought on a government website we should have expected these defence mechanisms to be in place".

"Texthelp can report that no customer data has been accessed or lost", the company said. "The Browsealoud service has been temporarily taken offline and the security breach has already been addressed, however Browsealoud will remain offline until Tuesday 12.00pm GMT".

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