Posted on April 4, 2018 by staff

Rise in ‘cryptojacking’ at universities poses threat


A new blog from cyber security firm Vectra has shown that universities must do more to combat the rise in cryptocurrency mining on academic networks.

Mining is now considered one of the key security risks targeting the sector, costing the universities money and potentially increasing cyber security risks for their networks.

As the value of cryptocurrencies increase, students have been mining for cryptocurrency using high-end computers or an army of botnets to make some extra money.

Hackers have also been hijacking university networks to perform the task, also known as ‘cryptojacking’, a type of in-browser cryptocurrency mining that leverages ordinary processing power.

It doesn’t depend on the installation of a program and can be done by visiting a website.

Vectra analysed the top five industries showing cryptocurrency-mining attack behaviours, with higher education coming out top, with more than the remaining four combined.

Cryptocurrency mining – which converts electricity into monetary value using computational processes – can be expensive if done without a free source of power.

The difference between businesses and academic institutions is that businesses tend to have more security controls, whereas universities can only advise their students.

Although mining is not considered to be as dangerous as a targeted cyberattack, it still puts personally identifiable information, protected health information and financial data at risk says Vectra.

According to the company it can also create enough noise to hide serious security issues, impact the reputation of an organisation’s IP address causing it to be black-listed and give cybercriminals an easier way into the network.

By using a large amount of the system’s computing power, mining also slows the network down and ages them prematurely.