India’s government websites fall prey to cryptojacking: research
Cryptojacking has spread its roots to India as well. This time, the mining malware has chosen to infest the websites of the authorities. Economic Times, a local daily, reported that official government websites have become the prime targets for hackers to illegally mine cryptocurrencies. According to the report, a research by a group of cybersecurity analysts analyzed over 4,000 websites by running a software script or code on their homepages from goidirectory.nic.in to recognize cryptojacking scripts.
The research revealed that the official websites of the director of the municipal administration of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati Municipal Corporation and Macherla municipality were among the trusted government websites that have been hit by cryptojacking. The malware was first noticed by three researchers Shakil Ahmed, Anish Sarma and Indrajeet Bhuyan, who identified the affected websites to be the subdomains of the official online portal of the Andhra Pradesh state government, ap.gov.in, which featured over 160,000 visits per month.
“Hackers target government websites for mining cryptocurrency because those websites get high traffic and mostly 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,” Bhuyan stated in the report. The research also revealed that cryptojacking has spread across enterprise systems as well.
Even though cryptocurrency is still a budding concept in India, cryptojacking seems to be growing firm roots here by targeting government websites that are widely trusted by the public. Earlier this year, the official website of Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was compromised by the same mining malware that was used to mine Monero [XMR]. “Crypto mining activity is becoming a very big business in India. This technology is most effective on illegal video-streaming websites where people stay for hours watching movies or TV series,” said Fortinet’s Rajesh Maurya.
Security experts are of the opinion that cryptojacking will target internet of things [IoT] products next. Electronic devices that have high processing power are being utilized to mine cryptocurrencies. The report also confessed to finding over 13,500 home routers affected in India by mining malware after a thorough search in Shodan.io, an IoT-focused search engine. On a global scale, cryptojacking has affected 13% of all the enterprises in Q4 last year and has since risen to 28% in Q1 this year.
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