University forced to shut down its entire network following cryptojacking attack

A university in Canada took drastic action when it realised its computer network had been overrun by cryptojacking malware…

Cryptojacking continues to be a growing concern amongst security software companies. It’s malware that once on a person’s computer, it quietly sits in the background using its processing power to mine cryptocurrency. It rarely actually does malicious damage to the computer, rather it uses its processing power – and thus electricity – for nefarious means.

Cryptojacking malware is notoriously also hard to detect, given that it’s in its own interests to be as quiet and stealth-like as possible. And that’s perhaps why St Francis Xavier University in Canada never saw it coming.

It was discovered that the University’s computing power had indeed been harvesting by cryptojacking malware, leading to drastic measures in order to remove it. The University had to shut down its entire network so that it could apply the requisite fixes and remove the malware from its servers.

A staggered approach to bringing the network back was undertaken.

As an announcement on the St Francis Xavier University site confirms, “the malicious software attempted to utilize StFX’s collective computing power in order to create or discover bitcoin for monetary gain. At this time, there is no evidence that any personal information within our network was breached”.

All network passwords were also reset as part of the network security precautions, and heightened security measures have also been applied to the overall network. The systems update that was posted can be read here.

Standard advice applies about keeping security software up to date, as malware-battling companies continue to evolve their tactics in the battle against crypto-jacking.

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