Canada’s St. Francis Xavier University Forced to Power Down Network After Cryptojacking Attack

Canada’s St. Francis Xavier University was forced to shut down their IT networks after an attempted cryptojacking attack.

An alert sent to St. Francis Xavier University students on Thursday says the school is addressing an attempted cyber-attack.

Cryptojacking is a form of cyber attack in which a hacker hijacks a target's processing power in order to mine cryptocurrency on the hacker's behalf. It has become an increasingly popular way for bad actors to extract money from targets in the form of cryptocurrency. Cryptojacking takes a different approach, harnessing victims' machines to “mine”: perform the computations necessary to update cryptocurrencies' blockchains, creating new tokens and generating fees in the process. These new tokens and fees are deposited to wallets owned by the attacker, while the costs of mining are borne by the victim.

The attack on St. Francis Xavier University started on 1st November. As soon as the malware got detected, the university shut down their entire network that crippled all online services like cloud storage, email services, debit transactions, and Wi-Fi.

A statement by the authorities confirmed that no sensitive data was compromised. Part f the statement reads: “On Thursday, ITS, in consultation with security specialists, purposefully disabled all network systems in response to what we learned to be to be an automated attack on our systems known as ‘cryptocoin mining.’ The malicious software attempted to utilize StFX’s collective computing power in order to create or discover bitcoin for monetary gain.”

Cryptojacking has been on the rise recently, although mostly targetted at privacy coins such as Monero. As an increasing number of devices get connected to the internet, this problem is only bound to grow.

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