University Student Crypto-Mining Becoming “Problematic”
A Penn State University graduate, Patrick Cines, has announced that he was actively mining digital currencies as a means of making “passive” income during his studies at the university. He spoke about the ease in mining and earning some profit on the side, stating that it was like a steady source of income for him during his studying, exams and other activities while studying and his computer in his dorm room simply continued mining for crypto.
However, even with the successful mining, he commented on a few issues including the generated heat from his mining hardware, stating that it made his room unbearable. To divert the excessively heated air from his room, he mentioned purchasing drying tubes and connecting them to his cryptocurrency miner, a device built by Cines. Additionally, apart from incredible heat in his room, heavily costly energy prices and usage were only a few of the issues presented.
A rising issue among cryptocurrency mining is infections and malicious software like ransomware and malware breaking into computers and subtly mining for crypto through an oblivious victim's own CPU.
Vectra’s Vice President in charge of marketing for the cybersecurity company, Mike Banic, has stated that the act of mining for cryptocurrencies itself has been troublesome and seen as an inconvenience due to a hacker installing malware and mining through your own machine for their personal gain.
He adds that these criminals may utilize advanced crypto-mining rigs for large-scale attacks on unsuspecting individuals or large companies. He highlights the fact that these issues are not often given their attention they required until an attack successfully occurs. However, even with the known risks, cryptocurrency mining is vastly increasing at different universities and colleges.
As per research conducted by Vectra into 11 different colleges, each was found to have crypto-mining operations. According to the company, students were operating mining equipment and installing these machines up to four times on a daily basis. Since these machines operate on campus internet, it exposes the entire university to possible hackings and other attacks.
According to Cines, he states that the risk factor isn’t high enough to warrant concerns. He says that it attributes to the level of security the university itself provides and doesn’t believe that cryptocurrency mining exposes the university to any danger. He goes on to explain that he was introduced to new fintech through cryptocurrency mining and according to him, helped set him on his career path in college.
Cines has reportedly managed to earn $10K in total as part of his mining efforts, Banic has stated that it costs around $4.7K just to mine a single Bitcoin. According to him, this sums up to around 10 percent of the year tuition paid at most universities. Additionally, he stated that the university itself was funding the mining operations by Cines despite an email stating that all students and faculty are collectively responsible for the safety of its information.
Despite this, no official statement or comment on the matter has been made in the email sent by the university, most likely due to the fact that the incident itself is fairly new. Other universities have already dealt with similar situations, with WPI stating that students could not abuse the institutions own resources to mine for crypto or for self-profit. It adds that WPI utilizes specialized software to monitor and back-track any detected mining operations through IP addresses and warnings are issued by campus security to any students that are caught mining.