Many official government of India websites are involuntarily helping hackers to mine cryptocurrency, The Economic Times (ET) reports on September 17.
The phenomenon is known as cryptojacking, where a target is infected with malware to use that computer’s processing powers to mine cryptocurrency without the owner’s knowledge or consent.
The affected websites include the director of municipal administration of Andhra Pradesh, Macherla municipality, Tirupati Municipal Corporation among hundreds of other Indian websites.
Talking to ET, Indrajeet Bhuyan a security researcher said “hackers target government websites for mining cryptocurrency because those websites get high traffic and most people trust them. Earlier, we saw a lot of government websites getting defaced (hacked). Now, injecting cryptojackers is more fashionable as the hacker can make money.”
Along with Bhuyan, the hacks were first identified by Guwahati-based security researchers Anish Sarma and Shakil Ahmed. The aforementioned AP government websites are all subdomains of popular ap.gov.in – which receives around 160,000 visits per month.
Apart from spreading and affecting the government websites, the malware has also attacked enterprise system as well, with PublicWWW listing over 119 Indian websites that run coinhive scripts, which is a script created to mine Monero (XMR) via a web browser.
Citing a Fortinet report ET highlights the rising incidents of cryptojacking; between 2017 Q4 to 2018 Q1 cryptojacking has more than doubled, with the percentage of affected enterprise rising to 28% from just 13%.
A report from cybersecurity firm McAfee Labs this summer also pointed out the rising activities of cryptojacking with a staggering percentage of 629 in Q1 of 2018.