Thousands of websites around the world – from the UK’s NHS and ICO to the US government’s court system – were today secretly mining crypto-coins on netizens’ web browsers for miscreants unknown.
The affected sites all use a fairly popular plugin called Browsealoud, made by Brit biz Texthelp, which reads out webpages for blind or partially sighted people.
This technology was compromised in some way – either by hackers or rogue insiders altering Browsealoud’s source code – to silently inject Coinhive’s Monero miner into every webpage offering Browsealoud.
For several hours today, anyone who visited a site that embedded Browsealoud inadvertently ran this hidden mining code on their computer, generating money for the miscreants behind the caper.
A list of 4,200-plus affected websites can be found here: they include The City University of New York (cuny.edu), Uncle Sam’s court information portal (uscourts.gov), Lund University (lu.se), the UK’s Student Loans Company (slc.co.uk), privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office (ico.org.uk) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (financial-ombudsman.org.uk), plus a shedload of other .gov.uk and .gov.au sites, UK NHS services, and other organizations across the globe.
Manchester.gov.uk, NHSinform.scot, agriculture.gov.ie, Croydon.gov.uk, ouh.nhs.uk, legislation.qld.gov.au, the list goes on.