World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of websites around the world, including many operated by governments, have been infected by hackers using the sites' computing power to "mine" cryptocurrencies, security researchers said.
The attacks made public over the weekend by British security researcher Scott Helme showed more than 4,000 website were infected in this manner, including those of the British data protection and privacy watchdog and the US federal courts system.
Unlike traditional attacks, these infections do not contain "ransomware" or steal data, but operate in stealth mode to make profits from the shadowy world of cryptocurrencies.
Helme said in a blog post Sunday that the hackers were able to reach large numbers of websites by infecting a commonly used "plug-in," or software which helps a site run better.
In this case, the hackers used the malicious software to create Monero, one of several new cryptocurrencies which are making a splash in financial markets.
"If you want to load a crypto miner on 1,000+ websites you don't attack 1,000+ websites, you attack the 1 website that they all load content from," he said.
The creator of the plug-in, the British software firm TextHelp, said it took the affected software offline after it discovered the "attempt to illegally generate cryptocurrency. "
"This was a criminal act and a thorough investigation is currently underway," the company said in a statement.
Researchers have been warning in recent weeks about this kind of malware, which can deliver profits without being obvious to users.
Security researchers at Cisco Talos warned last month that this kind of hacking activity "has exponentially increased."
Because of the huge financial gains in cryptocurrencies, Cisco researchers said this has become a prime target for hackers.
"At a high level mining is simply using system resources to solve large mathematical calculations which result in some amount of cryptocurrency being awarded to the solvers," Cisco researchers wrote in a research note.
Security researcher Graham Cluley said the latest attack highlights vulnerabilities in websites which may have weaknesses in third party components.
"Things could have been much worse," Cluley said in a blog post. "Imagine if the plug-in had been tampered with to steal login passwords rather than steal CPU resources from visiting computers."
The so-called Langlands programme dates back to 1967, when the then-associate professor at Princeton University wrote a letter to renowned French mathematician Andre Weil outlining his new theory.
Calls for investigations came on both sides of the Atlantic after Facebook responded to explosive reports of misuse of its data by suspending the account of Cambridge Analytica, a British firm hired by Trump's 2016 campaign.
New research says reducing carbon emissions sooner could prevent 153 million premature deaths globally
Theoretical physicist became an icon for Palestinians when he joined a boycott campaign against Israeli policy in 2013
Healthineers, one of Siemens' largest and most valuable divisions, supplies hospitals around the world with everything from X-ray and MRI machines to lab diagnostics gear and robotic arms used in the operating theatre.
Ban will come into effect from June, Google says in statement
Musk, the founder of rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX, said the company's interplanetary ship could begin test flights as soon as next year.
Technology can be used in so many areas to change world, experts say
Head of tech giant in Turkey says cloud computing ensures 'great democratization'
Warner is last major label to agree to allow Facebook users to use licensed music on the social media site
Technology at center of government policy, science, industry and technology minister says
Ratio of not using latest softwares in Turkey's public institutions above 90 percent says Microsoft Turkey's Murat Yilmaz
Digital advertisement investments reached $593M last year, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau Turkey
The launch of the Falcon 9 carrying a Hispasat Spanish-language telecommunications and broadband satellite took place on schedule at 12:33 am (0533 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Turk Telekom can become world leader in 5G in 2018, says international foundation
Quoting unnamed security sources, German news agency DPA reported Wednesday that Russian hackers had infiltrated government networks including those of the foreign and interior ministries.