Cryptocurrency Mining Becoming Popular on University Campuses, Brings with it Energy and Security Concerns

Cryptocurrency mining has become an exciting and enticing proposition for many people. While the enterprise affords many opportunities to acquire valuable virtual currencies, the process also brings with it some unpleasant consequences. The growing popularity of mining has led to it popping up in some unlikely places, like business offices and college dorms.

Cryptocurrency Mining Becoming Popular in Dorm Rooms and Offices

Cryptocurrency mining has seeped into colleges and businesses. Vectra, a cybersecurity company, carried out a study of mining on eleven college campuses. It found instances of mining at every school and evidence that students were regularly setting up mining operations on campuses.

One example is Patrick Cines, a Penn State graduate, who turned his dorm room into a makeshift Bitcoin mining operation. Cines, in his freshman year at Penn State, had a cryptocurrency miner in his dorm. Though it was generating lots of heat, he described the mining process as a “passive income”. According to Cines, dorm mining made him approximately $10,000 and helped shape him and his career.

Businesses too are involved in digital currency mining, as office employees have divided their work system to accommodate office work and mining operations. Mike Banic of Vectra says:

“Cryptomining is up 4.5 to 5 times. And it’s across every place. Forty percent of those locations are enterprise businesses. There are probably employees who, as you walk up to their desk, they switch what they’re doing because maybe what they were doing was mining bitcoin.”

However, as potentially lucrative as crypto mining is, it is also susceptible to malware and hackers. The risk associated with cryptocurrency mining software is quite high; these activities can endanger school systems and business by leaving them open to hackers and malware.

Cryptocurrency Mining is Energy Intensive

Other problems presented by cryptocurrency mining include extreme energy costs and heat production, and colleges are beginning to feel the consequences. Mike Banic, vice president of marketing at Vectra, speaking on the rate at which mining can cost universities, said:

“I think there are a lot of universities that don’t know this is happening. I don’t think that they would want it to happen either, considering it costs $4,700 to mine one bitcoin. That’s about 10 percent of the annual tuition at a private university.”

Some Colleges like Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are aware of the energy crypto mining consumes and has a policy in place. Vice president for information and technology and chief information officer at WPI, stated the college’s policy, saying:

“We have an acceptable usage policy, which all students and employees have to view and agree to. And in the policy, it says that you can’t use institutional resources for personal gain, or for a cryptocurrency.”

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