In a hack of unprecedented scope, thousands of government websites around the world have been compromised as part of a criminal scheme to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero, which like Bitcoin and Ethereum is blockchain based, but with a greater focus on transaction privacy.
The process, known as crypto-jacking, forces a user's computer to mine cryptocurrency without their permission, generating profits for the hacker.
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. 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.
The exploit was online for four hours in the early hours of Monday, during which time most Australians would have been asleep, and probably not accessing government websites.
Websites such as the UK's NHS and ICO to the U.S. government's court system were just some of the 4,200 sites infected with a malicious version of a widely used tool known as Browsealoud from British software maker Texthelp, which reads out webpages for people with vision problems.
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The malware have infected government sites on Sunday after a browser plug-in made by a third-party was compromised.
Texthelp, the company that provides Browsealoud, has confirmed that the compromised plugin has been taken offline.
Some of the affected websites have been taken offline as Whitehall IT experts battle to defeat the code. The sites of UK's own data protection watchdog and UK's National Health Service were supposedly hit along with other websites.
The National Cyber Security Centre in the United Kingdom has given an official statement on the matter, assuring people that "Government websites continue to operate securely", further stating that "there is nothing to suggest that members of the public are at risk".