Stealing electricity, mining, and making quick money, what happened to these college students?

Last month, technology company Cisco (Cisco) released a digital currency mining research report titled "College students are using campus power mining ."

Cisco security researcher Austin McBride said that at present, the university campus has become the second largest source of encrypted digital currency after energy and utilities , with traffic accounting for 22% of the industry, which may be "opportunistic" students in the dormitory. The result of installing a large number of mining equipment inside, "Let the mining equipment run free of charge in the dormitory for four years. After graduation, you can leave the school with a large sum of money. Why not?"

Traffic ratio distribution

The university campus not only cultivates a batch of outstanding graduates, but also produces a large number of encrypted digital currencies because of the students.

But not all encrypted digital currency mining is done by students voluntarily, they may not know , hackers can use malicious software to attack the student's personal computer and secretly conduct digital currency mining.

So, what about those students who actively dig mines in school dorms? How do they view the use of school public power for personal gain?

In fact, many students don't have to worry about paying for electricity because their college housing contracts often cover electricity bills.

This “free” power allows them to have cost-effective mining resources, and the only cost to consider is the actual mining hardware. This seems unbelievably good: the students who mine are earning enough to pay for the cost of buying a few textbooks, and may even pay for the entire semester or more.

However, there is a problem: school electricity is not free, and someone must pay the price .

Students are so obsessed with mining

According to Cointelegraph, due to the blockchain winter and the subsequent decline in the price of the currency, mining companies' profits have declined, but the hash rate continues to rise, indicating that the global mining pool is still increasing .

According to McBride, students can save on the cost of electricity associated with cryptocurrency mining activities when mining activities in the dorms. “Many digital currencies are now difficult to mine, which means that electricity and Internet costs are higher than the profits you get from these digital currencies. If you don’t have to pay for these costs, then you’re in a very good position. You can make a fortune by relying on the university's "land and people".

McBride did not respond specifically when asked which schools the data came from.

“These data are provided by educational institutions around the world and any identifying information will remain anonymous.”

As early as March 2018, cyber attack monitoring company Vectra also released a similar report showing that encrypted digital currency mining and mining cyber attacks on university campuses are more common than in any other industry.

According to Vectra, encrypted digital currency mining is becoming more popular among students and criminals, especially in universities with a large student population.

In addition, universities can't monitor their networks as closely as big companies, because these big companies have high-cost, high-budget IT departments. "At most, it reminds students how to protect themselves, such as installing operating system patches and improving phishing. The vigilance of mail, suspicious websites and online advertising."

Is it really that simple?

Students must be careful when mining in the dormitory. If they are detected by the lodger, they will accept unnecessary investigations. Mark D'Aria, founder and CEO of Bitpro, said: " The vast majority of mining equipment on campus is not from what you think of mining machines, not the GPUs designed for mining. It won't be an ASIC miner , because they are too noisy and the heat is too far off the mark. No student can tolerate this type of miner staying in his dorm for a long time."

In fact, most of the mining equipment seems to be the old-fashioned personal computer for students . Because students don't have to worry about the cost of electricity, even in the current bearish market, this sloppy old machine can provide students with modest income .

In addition, D'Aria also stated:

"The gamebook with a high-end GPU configuration costs about $1 a day, and even a very regular laptop can generate a few cents.

Although it seems that the income per dollar is very small per day, if the student does not need to pay any electricity bill for this? They have no reason to stop these computers from mining because it is a cost-free benefit for them.

In addition, there is no technical threshold for students to use laptops for mining . “It's very easy, you can set it to auto-dig when you don't use it,” adds D'Aria.

Tom (a pseudonym), a medical student from a university in Mississippi, used his gamebook to dig up Bitcoin for more than two months . He eventually gave up on the idea of ​​increasing workload and rising GPU prices.

"If the bitcoin price remains at $15,000, I can earn about $120. Even though the current bitcoin price is around $4,000 (in the interview), it is still profitable because there is no need to consider the cost of electricity. However, due to the huge pressure of the system and the high price of the GPU, I decided to give up."

"I can't guarantee that the computer is always on, that's impossible," Tom said very helplessly.

Before mining, Tom's room would be very cold during the winter months, so the extra heat from mining was actually very useful. "I don't need to buy another heater to get warm."

However, sometimes mining students will also be discovered.

A student from the University of Arizona State Applied Physics, Ken (pseudonym), received an email from the school and was told that the security team had monitored a mining program on his two devices. "We urged You uninstall these programs as soon as possible, and if you don't know about it, you should scan for viruses immediately."

Ken was actually using some sort of program to mine.

After learning from the miners in the BitcoinMining sub-community on Reddit, he decided to use a virtual private network (VPN) for mining. "I already have a VPN and they can no longer track me."

However, when Ken was complacent because of the rapid gains of a few hundred dollars, the mining program he used was hacked . He lost all the "dollars" that he had just earned and was hot. He had not had time to transfer the money. Go to his private wallet .

Chris Partridge is a graduate of Computer Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). He has been digging encrypted digital currency since 2015 until mid-2016. “I was very curious about Bitcoin. Mining seems to be a good way to learn.” Compared to Tom and Ken, his mining equipment is more advanced because he uses a pair of models, BFL Monarch and Prospero. X1 ant mining machine. But as a result, his equipment will also generate more heat. "Even in a blizzard, the windows should be open 24 hours a day, 24 hours a day, or it would be too hot."

Partridge said, “Although there were people who came to the room for inspections, it was caused by other unrelated reasons. He had never been caught because of mining because no one would notice the existence of the mining machine. ""

Although the former RIT student was not for profit at the time, he still dug about 0.4 BTCs and then sold it at a high price of $6,000 . Partridge then took the money to attend an internship. A few months later, he had left a sum of money to remove his daily living expenses.

“I bought a Roomba (an iRobot robot vacuum cleaner) with the rest of the money. If there is anything I have to pay for, it’s definitely Roomba!”

Marco Streng, co-founder and CEO of Genesis Mining, is also a beneficiary of mining. He has been mining in the dormitory since 2013. However, he refused to disclose which university he was mining and said, “Where to dig it all the same. " .

"In my 10-13 square meter room, there is a sauna atmosphere, the noise is really big , we tried to cool it by placing some mats on the mining machine and placing it near the window."

Streng said that although the noise caused people's attention, his neighbors did not seem to be disturbed. Although I think this is annoying, I am still very excited because it makes me make money.”

Around 2014, Streng found that almost all of the local students began to build their own mining equipment on campus, when the electricity bill for student residences began to rise sharply.

When the market for encrypted digital money grew sharply and mining interests became more lucrative, Streng believed it was time to build an industrial-scale mine with thousands of mining machines .

“So I founded Genesis Mining, and I am grateful to those who are mining in the dorms, or else there will be no me today.

Is this ethical?

Although no university has issued norms and policies on mining digital currency mining, in January 2018, Stanford University seems to have made a good demonstration. The Stanford campus official website publicly issued a warning against students’ school use. Public assets gain personal economic benefits.

Stanford announcement part screenshot


The chief information security officer at Stanford University said: "Encrypted digital currency mining is the most profitable when computing costs are minimal. Unfortunately, this has led to the destruction of campus systems, the misuse of school computer equipment, and personal mining equipment. The chaos of public power such as the use of dormitories occurred."

In fact, many universities have explicitly prohibited students from using public resources for personal economic benefits . For example, Rit University's Code of Conduct on Computer Use is as follows:

“No member of the Rit community may use RIT computing accounts and any communications equipment owned and maintained by RIT to run businesses, business services, or advertise for business organizations and businesses. Members of the RIT community should not waste university public resources or Used for personal benefit or for the benefit of a non-university entity."

However, since there are no specific rules for mining digital currency, it may actually bring tax-related problems to educational institutions . In this regard, international tax lawyer and certified public accountant Selva Ozelli said:

“Universities need to develop policies that stipulate whether students can conduct digital currency mining activities on campus, or whether they should charge students for additional electricity. If the school does not formulate appropriate policies in time, it will face serious tax problems. The cryptographic digital currency mining revenue deemed to be a service activity shall be treated as ordinary income and shall be taxed in accordance with income and expenditure ."

From a moral point of view, the situation is quite complex , and there are even different views among students who benefit from campus mining activities.

Tom believes, " I have the right to use this room in the room when I spend money . In addition, there is no explicit provision in the house contract that excessive use of electricity will be punished. I think that I am right, especially when you are Winter can't control the temperature of your room, and you have to use a heater to warm up."

Partridge is relatively rational. “I don’t think mining on the university campus is moral, but mining on campus is indeed more profitable and full of temptation. But most students who believe that campus mining is ethical are not. Considering the dangers of school property and students' lives, school dormitory can not withstand large-scale high-power consumption of electronic equipment, and can not prevent fire, electric shock and other dangers, which can easily cause huge loss of property and life."

Streng believes that “although students can contribute to decentralized networks through mining, they should not use the school's public resources. If students want to mine in their rooms, they must pay their bills.

"There is a problem in the encrypted digital currency industry: people living in a small room can turn electricity into money, but it is unfair to have other people share the electricity bill.

Not only the education industry, but people in other industries are also being consumed in disguise. No matter how much electricity is consumed by a single person, others must share this part of the cost evenly. I think the relevant departments should be aware of such possibilities and take corresponding measures.

Therefore, if the university still does not pay attention to the mining of digital currency in the campus, this phenomenon will continue to develop, and will even intensify, students can earn some beer money, they are willing to do it .

D'Aria hits the nail: "I can't imagine any college student who would reject $5 or even $30 a month for quick money, which is almost impossible."


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