Report: ‘Free’ Electricity for Students Makes College Campuses Major Crypto Miners

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College campuses are the second largest cryptocurrency miners across industry verticals, according to research by tech conglomerate Cisco published in PCMag on March 5.

Cisco’s security researchers reportedly investigated cryptocurrency mining activity across various industry verticals. The research was carried out with Cisco’s security product Umbrella, which monitors clients’ network connections to screen malicious activity, including possibly dubious crypto mining.

Per the report, university campuses are ranked the second biggest miners of digital currency across industry verticals at 22 percent, second only to the energy and utilities sector, with about 34 percent.

Cisco threat researcher Austin McBride reportedly explained the trend to PCMag, saying that “you leave [the mining rig] running in your dorm room for four years, you walk out of college with a big chunk of change.”

While running their mining rigs in dorm rooms or the school library, students purported avoid electricity costs associated with cryptocurrency mining profitability, according to McBride, who added:

“Mining difficulty for a lot of coins is very high right now — which means it costs more for electricity and internet than the profit you can produce from mining those coins. If you don’t have to pay for those costs, then you are in a really good spot for making money on the university’s dime.”

In Cisco’s ranking, college campuses and utilities are followed by the media and healthcareindustries, with six and seven percent respectively. Cryptocurrency mining in the local government, manufacturing, and financial services sectors occupies four, three, and two percent respectively.

A similar tendency was observed in April of last year, when cyber attack monitoring firm Vectra discovered that both intentional cryptocurrency mining and cryptojacking was becoming more prevalent on college campuses than in any other industry.

In January of 2018, Stanford University posted a warning against crypto mining on campus, as school resources “must not be used for personal financial gain.” The warning also cited the school’s chief information security officer:

“Cryptocurrency mining is most lucrative when computing costs are minimized, which unfortunately has led to compromised systems, misused university computing equipment, and personally owned mining devices using campus power.”

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