Recently there was a flood of Windows applications infected with Monero miner in Turkey and Syria. University of Toronto's Citizen Lab took an interest in this case and made a report. The results are surprising, to say the least.
The culprit was connected to to Türk Telekom – a formerly governmental Turkish telecommunications provider. According to the report, the ties to miner virus are connected to an unknown party with the access to provider's middleboxes, associated with government surveillance in Turkey and Syria. All this raises questions whether or not the virus itself is a product of some governmental effort at mining.
The infection scheme, called “AdHose”, is explained further in the report. The users are unknowingly redirected to infected copies of legitimate software while trying to download Windows applications such as Avast Antivirus, Ccleaner, 7-Zip or Opera, for example.
The spokesperson for the Türk Telekom reacted to the accusations and published a stetement, calling Citizen Lab allegations technically inaccurate and intentionally misleading. He also said that the company is currently investigating the issue, because they are “deeply commited to ethical technology development”.
The idea itself of government-controlled cryptocurrency mining malware is a little far-fetched in the expert's opinion, but the similar cases have already been reported by Open Observatory of Network Interference in 2016. At that time the Egyptian internet provider has been implicated in similar MITM-type attacks with malware and advertising present, minus the mining element.