St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada had to shut down the entire network for four days last week to fend off a crypto-mining malware attack, Global news relationships.
Campus e-mails, Wi-Fi, debit transactions, online course selection, cloud storage and drive on the St. FX network were all affected by the arrest.
In a statement of 4 November, the university said it was using a "staggered approach to bring online systems back to minimize the potential risk", and said the attackers tried to use "malicious software …" to use the collective computing power of StFX to create or discover bitcoins for monetary gain. "
Cryptocurrency mining is a notoriously competitive, energy-intensive process of processing, in which machines compete to discover a random number set by the software that will be used to cryptographically block data blocks.
The computer that successfully guesses the long number currently receives 12.5 bitcoins to do it on the Bitcoin network. Another cryptocurrency popularly extracted from crypto-mining attacks is a "private currency" called Monero.
"Cryptojacking" is a relatively new form of cyberattack that, for better or worse, seems to eclipse ransomware attacks as the attack of choice among the nefarious hackers this year.
In a ransomware attack, all or part of a target's computer system is blocked by malicious malware. This malware is often injected onto a system via a link in an infected email.
After blocking a system or data, ransomware attackers then request that victims transmit cryptocurrency to a particular online wallet address in order to unlock their systems.
In recent years, many companies, with the advice of their IT security departments or consultants, have held cryptocurrency in hand to quickly resolve ransomware situations.
This year, "cryptojacking" or crypto-mining malware attacks are on the rise with the decline of ransomware attacks.
Like ransomware, cryptographic malware often infects a system through an employee e-mail, but rather than shutting down a system or a network, the zombie-encrypted malware a network to activate it in cryptocurrency mining activities 24-7 .
Infected systems often have their "sleep" functions overwritten by malware and computer processing units are cut down by the incessant calculations undertaken to find the number that will win "block prizes".
They can also increase the power costs in a network.
"Cryptojacking" malware also automatically sends cryptographic proceeds directly to hacker portfolios, with malware vendors suffering a cut.
At the time of writing, the network systems of St Francis Xavier University are partially restored.
The University says that no personal data has been hacked into the attack and has asked all users of its network to change their passwords as a matter of "standard practice".