Canadian St. Francis Xavier University shut down the entire network following a cryptojacking attack which attempted to use its systems' computing power to mine for Bitcoin.
Cryptojacking attacks use malicious tools designed to hijack vulnerable systems to stealthily mine for cryptocurrency in the background using crypto mining software without the consent or knowledge of the victims.
This type of attack has become a lot more attractive to threat actors because of the lesser amount of effort needed for compromising vulnerable systems, as well as the considerable higher payoff an extensive network of coin miners could bring.
Following the security breach incident and the complete shutdown of the network, the university's IT Services is currently working on bringing back all shutdown servers and services back online using a staggered approach to minimize all potential risks.
"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 ‘crytpocoin mining," says St. Francis Xavier University's press release.
The ongoing investigation of the StFX University breach has not yet found proof of personal data theft
An ongoing investigation has not yet found any evidence that the attackers have accessed personal information of students or staff until the press release was published in StFX's online newsroom.
StFX breach notification also states that "At this time, there is no evidence that any personal information within our network was breached, however, ITS will continue to analyze and monitor for suspicious activity in the days and weeks ahead."
As further reported, the cryptojacking attack compromised an undisclosed number of university computing systems which were supposedly used in an effort to mine for Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
The St. Francis Xavier University implemented improved security measures and reset all network passwords to block similar attacks which could affect the university's systems in the future.
According to a report by McAfee Global Threat Intelligence, coin mining focused malware has seen a massive uptick in activity during the second quarter of 2018, with the number of samples detected having grown by 86%.