By John Connolly
Over 4000 sites were compromised this weekend when hackers inserted malicious code that hijacked the processing power of any site visitor’s computer to mine the cryptocurrency Monero.
The attack worked by editing the code of a popular browser plugin called browsealoud which was then served to the affected sites. Any user visiting a site while the hack was ongoing would then run Coinhive’s Monero miner and unwittingly use their computer’s processing power and electricity to mine coins for the attackers.
The hack gained widespread attention due to the number of sites affected, including a number of UK government websites such as the Student Loan Company and even the ICO, who are responsible for UK data breaches.
The sites involved, and anyone else hosting third party scripts have been advised by security experts to implement SRI Integrity Attributes or Content Security Policy to reject any modified code. Meanwhile, users can install browser plugins that stop their CPU being harvested for coins. Until this becomes widespread practice and knowledge though, we can expect these attacks to become even more common over 2018.