Cryptojacking Rampant at U.S. Schools


Just yesterday we reported on The scourge of cryptojacking, citing a specific liability in the realm of container virtualization – namely API problems with Docker servers that have Monera mining operations running in the background.

Today, we have a different report on the same problem from a much different angle – one that just might renew your faith in the next shift generation and their ability to make lemonade out of lemons.

We know that college tuition costs are high, but reports today from a study by Cisco are highlighting a pretty interesting and unanticipated way some young entrepreneurs are recouping costs.

Most American colleges and universities offer students practically unlimited electricity as part of their housing package. Do you see where we’re going with this?

Talk about a loophole. Up until cryptojacking started to emerge, there wasn’t any real accessible way to make good money on the use of grid power. But now, enterprising young undergraduates are hooking up in their dorm rooms and using that power to generate real cryptocurrency returns.

We’re even assuming that some very crafty dormitory visitors might be doing the same thing without even paying tuition.

“You leave (mining equipment) running in your dorm room for four years, you walk out of college with a big chunk of change,” Cisco threat researcher Austin McBride told PCMag, explaining how cryptojacking makes abundant sense for college students who want a little more folding money.

This intentional cryptojacking trend has experts naming universities the single largest vertical when it comes to cryptojacking action.

Sure, you can dabble around on the edges by controlling little parts of people’s individual smart phones – or you can do a college hookup – or other institutional grid suck – and rake in enormous amounts of energy to power your Bitcoin or Ethereum plans or other mining operations.

“The problem is a considerable one for universities, however, as although cryptomining is not dangerous in itself, it uses significant power and computational resources, as well as creating network noise that can hide serious security issues, impacting the reputation of an organization’s IP address causing it to be blacklisted and also give cybercriminals an easier way into the network due to students downloading and running malware-laced files,” writes Mark Mayne at High-Tech Bridge.

Some universities are fighting back; last November, ZDNet had this report where Nova Scotia’s St. Francis Xavier University shut down operations to foil cryptojackers there.

“The university said that after consultation with cybersecurity experts, IT staff ‘purposefully disabled all network systems in response to what we learned to be to be an automated attack on our systems known as ‘crytpocoin [cryptocoin] mining’,” wrote Charlie Osborne for Zero Day.

Still, as you can imagine, it is hard to stem these nefarious schemes without dedicated IT resources for monitoring systems. Think about how cryptojacking is effecting coin markets as you plan your next move in the blockchain space.