Canada’s St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, is the latest victim of cryptojacking, while this normally a tool for hackers to take over networks and encrypt private data to extort cryptocurrency for the release of the files, this case involved the subversion of the system to use the networks processing power to mine for cryptos. The institution was undermined by the cryptocurrency mining malware which forced a shutdown of its entire network. The malevolent software took nearly a week for the network admins to discover the source.
According to local media outlet, Globalnews.ca the cyberattack commenced on November 1, 2018, where St. Francis Xavier University expansive network infrastructure was utilized for illicitly mining an undisclosed cryptocurrency. The university pulled the entire network offline after the discovery of the security breach. While disabling the malware this also led to the halting of its online services and functions. The university’s course system, cloud storage, email services, debit transactions, and Wi-Fi were all disabled during the investigation.
As opposed to the standard practice of holding files hostage, the university issued a statement that all personal or sensitive data are still secure despite the malware attack. This did not stop the institutions IT department from disabling the network as a security measure as they attempted to remedy the situation.
The statement reads in part:
“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.”
Assuring the university community that services will be restored in a staggered manner, the statement also instructed everyone at the university to reset their university account passwords.