Have you ever thought about mining in education the way students thought about mining in education? And I am not talking about data mining, I am talking about crypto mining, and when I talk about education, I really think about the premises or the dormitories, having in mind only free electricity.
It is unsurprising, taking into account that students don’t have to worry about paying anything extra for power. Because universities’ housing contracts usually cover electricity expenses. This way, the power comes at no cost to them, allowing for cost-efficient mining. The only expense they are supposed to cover is the cost of hardware they use.
Suspicious network activity
According to Cisco’s security researchers, students on campus have been using electricity from their colleges for cryptocurrency mining across various universities. The research was conducted with the help of Cisco’s security software Umbrella, which can monitor network activity, including possible crypto mining. Umbrella showed that students are the second-largest crypto miners. They produce 22 percent of all crypto coins in the world. They come second only to the energy sector, which produces about 34 percent.
Earlier, a similar report from cyberattack monitoring company Vectra showed that intentional cryptocurrency mining was becoming more prevalent on college campuses. It may be challenging to find the exact locations of cryptocurrency miners on the campus, but it is there and quite popular too. According to Vectra, cryptocurrency mining is surging, and it is particularly common for universities with a large number of students.
Not only students are to blame
A couple of years back, a school principal in China was busted for a cryptocurrency mining using school computers and fired. According to BBC, he was fired after other school staff discovered eight mining machines in his office.
Originally, he was mining Ethereum at home, but then he probably decided to up his game and save money on electricity. The local Commission reportedly took the mined cryptocurrency for Discipline Inspection. What may happen with the money remains unclear. After his illegal scheme was discovered, the mined crypto coins were reportedly taken away by the local Commission for Discipline Inspection.
Too good to be true?
Passive income (as in mining cryptocurrency) may vary from student to student. For some, it can potentially cover the costs of a few textbooks; for others, it may be the way to pay for the whole semester or more. Of course, it is rarely that beneficial. According to Cointelegraph, revenues began to fall since 2018, which made mining less profitable. Nevertheless, even though individual miners come and go, the hash rates have continued to grow, which is a good indicator that the global mining pool continues to increase.
But to mine in the university housing conditions, it should be discreet. Otherwise, it will be easily discovered and dealt with by the wardens. Some say that the vast majority of mining equipment from college campuses is nothing more than old-fashioned PCs. And those ordinary machines can provide their owners with only a modest income. But even so, if you don’t have to pay for electricity, there’s no reason not to get this “free money.”
And as generating cryptocurrency with a computer doesn’t require any substantial technical skills anymore, people will try to mine at least a little while they are not using their computers.
Should universities really be worried about the rise of cryptocurrency mining in educational premises? Well, maybe. But probably not that much, because students can rarely afford to put together a real mining farm. Naturally, many universities prohibit using their resources for personal gain, but enforcing it is a much more complicated issue. It is likely that in this way or another, mining will continue, but it will hardly provide students with anything more than some beer money.