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Cryptojacking: Attackers Hijack Indian Government Websites to Mine Cryptocurrency

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:41 PM
Yashu Gola
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:41 PM

Hackers stole the processing power of several Indian government websites to mine cryptocurrencies, researchers found.

Citizen portals such as that of the municipal administration of Andhra Pradesh (AP), Tirupati Municipal Corporation and Macherla municipality are among the hundreds of Indian websites that are found to be infected by cryptojacking malware. Cryptojacking, as the term indicates, allows hackers to access victims’ computers for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies. Hackers do this by fooling victims into clicking malicious links on emails, or by infecting websites with JavaScript code by loading it into the victims’ browsers.

They seem to have done the same to many of these government websites mainly because they have high traffic volume, found Indrajeet Bhuyan, one of the security researchers behind the revelation.

“Hackers target government websites for mining cryptocurrency because those websites get high traffic and most people trust them,” he stated. “Earlier, we saw a lot of government websites getting defaced. Now, injecting crypto-jackers is more fashionable as the hacker can make money.”

An effort  from Indian media to speak to JA Chowdary, the IT advisor to AP’s Chief Minister, yielded a one-liner response from him.

“Thanks for notifying us about the AP website hacking,” it said.

However, nothing concrete has been done to fix the issue. The malware code continues to run on AP’s public portals. CCN.com’s recent efforts to reach their websites also met with a downtime error.

Cryptojacking on the Rise

It is not only the government websites that are on the list of cyber-criminals. They are also crypto-jacking highly trafficked enterprise systems for mining cryptocurrencies – secretly. PublicWWW found over 100 sites that are running Coinhive javascript that mines Monero coin. The same script had earlier infected over 200,000 ISP-Grade routers globally and is among the top three crypto-mining malware on the web, alongside Cryptoloot.

Hackers are inclined to use cryptojacking as their prime tool to earn money illegally, for it doesn’t require significant technical skills. The darknet sells cryptojacking kits for a mere $30, finds  a Digital Shadows report. It is a cheaper alternative to a much more complex ransomware attack, meaning more money for less risk.

Nevertheless, cryptojacking continues to be a poor man’s choice for its inability to bring in any substantial earning.

“With a hash rate of 80 H/s and CoinHive’s payout ratio, a miner earns about 5.8 USD per day and website on average, which supports our observation that web-based cryptojacking currently provides limited profits only,” states a report by the Braunschweig University of Technology.

Less risk also means less money!

Featured image from Shutterstock.