University students are reportedly using campus electricity to mine crypto, collectively becoming the second-largest crypto mining group in the world, according to security researchers from Cisco. They have monitored cryptocurrency mining across different industry verticals, and university campuses make up about 22 percent.
The students are probably mining cryptocurrency to take advantage of the “free” electricity on campus. Cisco observed the mining through their Umbrella security product, which oversees client network connections in order to block malignant activities, including suspected crypto mining. Umbrella apparently processes 180 million Domain Name Server requests each day.
Cisco’s Austin McBride a threat analytics researcher at Cisco Umbrella, said: “You leave the mining rig running in your dorm room for four years, you walk out of college with a big chunk of change. So you can run your mining rig in your dorm or school library and not worry about those costs eating into your mining profitability”.
Malicious Crypto-Mining Is Everywhere
But it’s not only students who are mining. Hackers have infected many computers with malware and secretly use the hardware to mine crypto. Cisco says that their research shows that malicious crypto-mining is prevalent everywhere, and nobody is safe.
“All organizations need to take action to protect their resources from malicious crypto-mining. Smaller organizations, with less mature cyber security teams, are not exempt. They are also being targeted heavily. In fact, the majority of cryptomining traffic we see is impacting organizations with under 10,000 employees”.
Last year, Stanford University posted a warning against crypto mining on campus, saying school resources “must not be used for personal financial gain”. Last month, an Indonesian student was arrested for conducting illicit mining on university computers in South Korea. He was suspected of initiating HoneyMiner, a program used to mine Bitcoin and Monero, on 27 computers in the common computer room.
Cisco say that mining is also prevalent in the media and healthcare industries, local government, manufacturing and financial services sectors.