The world’s fastest computers are being hijacked to mine cryptocurrency

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Posted on: May 18, 2020 5:50 pm EDT

Hackers have figured out how to send malware to supercomputers to take advantage of their massive processors

Mining cryptocurrencies has been one of the most lucrative commercial activities since the first digital currency appeared. The challenge is that it requires powerful computers and high energy consumption due to the tasks of completing numerous mathematical calculations every second. That’s why criminals on the Internet have been targeting supercomputers across Europe to do cryptocurrency mining for them through the installation of malware that is being used to mainly to mine Monero. As a result, supercomputers located across the UK, Germany and Switzerland had to shut down temporarily while security incidents were investigated.

Even a high-performance computing center in Spain reported that it was the victim of a malware attack. This new wave of supercomputers being targeted by hackers was first reported a week ago from the University of Edinburg, home of the ARCHER supercomputer. According to the educational institution, there was a “security exploitation on the ARCHER login nodes.” Shortly afterwards, the ARCHER operators shut down the system and changed all SSH passwords to prevent furthers security violations.

Reportedly in Germany, another hack was made to an organization that coordinates research projects among computers extended within the state of Baden-Württemberg. Apparently, five different intrusions were detected in five of its high-performance computing clusters.

The reports continued coming, as a supercomputer at the Leibniz Computing Center (LRZ) at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences was also hacked. No further explanations have been given by any of these organizations regarding the security issues that forced those supercomputers offline. However, reports have come from other organizations, like the Computer Security Incident Response Team from the European Grid Infrastructure.