At least a dozen supercomputers across Europe have pack up after cyber-attacks tried to require control of them.
A pan-European supercomputing group says they appear to possess tried to use the machines to mine cryptocurrency.
“A security exploitation” disabled access to the Archer supercomputer, at the University of Edinburgh, on 11 May.
Staff said they were working with the National Cyber Security Centre to revive the system, which had recently installed an epidemic modelling tool.
“We now believe this to be a serious issue across the tutorial community as several computers are compromised within the UK et al. in Europe,” the team said.
The NCSC said: “We are conscious of this incident and are providing support.
“The NCSC works with the tutorial sector to assist it improve its security practices and protect its institutions from threats.”
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Also on 11 May, another attack pack up five supercomputers in Germany.
Others followed elsewhere in Germany within the following days, also as in Switzerland, and reportedly Barcelona.
They exploited an Secure Shell (SSH) connection, which academic researchers use to log in to the system remotely.
And once inside, the attackers appear to possess deployed cryptocurrency-mining malware.
The security team at the ecu Grid Infrastructure foundation said: “A malicious group is currently targeting academic data centres for CPU [central processing unit] mining purposes.
“The attacker is hopping from one victim to a different using compromised SSH credentials.”
Jamie Akhtar, chief executive of UK security company Cybersmart, said: “Universities are home to a number of the foremost advanced research projects within the world across many disciplines – including computing – but they’re also notoriously susceptible to attack if they’re connected to the broader university network.”