Egyptian internet users may have been unknowingly mining digital currencies for their government, at least which is what is being claimed by researchers from the University of Toronto.
According to the University researchers, the governments of Egypt, Syria and Turkey, or organizations connected to the governments of those countries have either hijacked the internet infrastructure present in their respective countries in order to mine cryptocurrency using their citizens’ internet accessible devices.
Called AdHose, the process involves the Egyptian government sending its internet users to advertising sites or non-functional websites which are then taking control of the user’s devices and using their processing power to mine cryptocurrencies, especially Monero, according to the released findings.
The report also says that middleboxes were being used to hijack unencrypted internet connections of Egyptian citizens in bulk, and then the users were redirected to ad sites to view affiliate ads and other sites which has cryptocurrency mining scripts integrated in them which uses the browser to mine digital currencies.
A vast majority of Egyptian netizens have been affected by this attack, with the report claiming the number of victims affected by AdHose to be around 95% of the total internet users in the country.
The facts came to light when the researchers were looking at methods employed by the Egyptian government to impose censorship on their citizens seeking to access information. They say that AdHose also acts as a censorship tool, blocking netizens from accessing human rights websites and international news websites speaking critically of the current Egyptian administration.
Similar methods were being employed by the Syrian and the Turkish governments to enforce censorship among the citizens of their country, with ads being served to their citizens when they were trying to access information. The researchers, though, were not able to confirm whether these governments were also using their citizens’ devices to mine cryptocurrencies along with serving advertisements.
The researchers also put the source of these censorship tools to a Canadian company called Sandvine, although the company strongly denied its involvement. They lamented the fact that the sector, being host to such powerful technologies, was still largely unregulated and called for companies and organizations to take more responsibility of the products they offer.