The University society in the Uk and Germany woke up on May 11th to the shocking news of a series of attacks on supercomputers used for research purposes. This was according to the information from the National Cyber Security Centre and European Group Infrastructure foundation. The hackers wished to use the computers for cryptocurrency mining. They had gained access to the computers by using Secure Shell (SSH) credentials. Investigators believe the hackers stole the credentials from staff who were using them to log in to the computers.
After they gained access to computers, the hackers tried to install malware for mining cryptocurrency. This is according to the Computer Security Incident Response Team for the European Grid Infrastructure.
It appears the target is computers in the academic field. The first case was an attack on an Archer supercomputer at Edinburg University. That case took place on May 11th. On the same day, Germany reported similar issues. The case in Germany involved five supercomputers. All are for research.
The authorities had shut down the computers. This is to ensure proper investigation and to stop a further attack.
On May 13th, a center in Spain reported a similar case. They had also shut down the computer. The attack continued across Europe. Switzerland also had a similar case. England and Germany had since reported more cases. To date, there are more than a dozen cases of attack on supercomputers. And they are all computers for research work.
Investigators don’t know yet if the same set of hackers is to be blamed for all the attacks. But the pattern of attack is similar. This suggests they are from the same gang.
The NCSC is now assisting the Universities in Europe on the issue. They are also helping them to protect their computers further.
The SSH used to gain access to the computers was from staff in universities in China, Poland, and Canada. This is the belief of a security company in the UK. They feel it is due to the networking between the computers used for research work across the globe.
This is not the first time such will happen. But this series of attacks is the first time hackers used supercomputers for crypto mining. Such computers had been used illegally before for the same purposes. But all previous cases were by staff that did it for personal gains.