A lot can be done with the free electricity at University campuses, and that includes mining cryptocurrencies from the school’s dorm or library. That being the case, college kids account for the group with the second largest population of cryptocurrency miners, according to a report by PCMag on March 5.
Second Largest Group of Miners Are College Students
Per the report, the second largest group of cryptocurrency miners are college students. The data was revealed by Security researchers at Cisco, a multinational technology conglomerate which outlined that 22 percent of miners are residing in learning environments. The largest group, on the other hand, is the Energy or Utility sector which accounts for 34 percent of mining traffic.
In the case of students, the high level of mining has been attributed to easy access to free electricity. Electricity is usually one of the problems of miners due to the high energy mining machines require. Moreover, the cost of mining Bitcoin as JPMorgan informed on January 25 is now higher than its price.
Free Electricity Helps to Cut Mining Cost
Therefore, not having to pay for electricity and internet cuts down on the cost which makes these activities more rewarding. Therefore, some students have resorted to virtual mining assets from their rooms, and it can even be 24/7. As Austin McBride, Cisco threat researcher stated while speaking to the media, leaving these mining rigs up and running for the next four years could have a student walk away with some good cash.
McBride also said:
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.
Some Mining Activities Are Carried Out by Malware
Alternatively, it has been noted that not all these activities are carried out willingly by the students. The latter is as a result of cryptocurrency mining malware whose mode of operation is to hijack a computer and use its resources such as the CPU and electricity. Global Threat Index for December 2018 also revealed that mining malware is ranking top for the 13th time in a row and most are focused on mining Monero.
Therefore, while these activities may seem innocent enough, they could lead to potential threats such as the introduction of other malicious code. An instance of this is a malware which infected mining rigs in China and requested 10 BTC as ransom. On the other hand, the electricity cost also increases for the university who may stop these practices shortly.