Hackers have hijacked thousands of government websites to help them to stockpile cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Websites, including those belonging to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Student Loans Company and Scottish NHS helpline, were infected with a virus.
As a result unsuspecting visitors have had their computers and phones commandeered to help criminals make more money. Up to 4,700 websites have been affected worldwide.
The cyber criminals planted a virus called Coinhive in software used by the websites to help visually impaired users access the websites. And when users clicked on the sites the virus was transferred to their own computers.
The hackers then used the extra processing power provided by users’ devices to ‘mine’ cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Mining is the process where new digital coins are created by solving complex mathematical problems, uses increasing amounts of computer processing power.