Last week, Computer Weekly published an article detailing a study which suggests that higher education establishments are at a greater risk of exposure to malicious cryptocurrency mining attacks. According to the report, 60% of all recorded illicit mining takes place at higher education institutions, this includes Universities and Colleges. The report outlines that many of these malicious attacks are not being pushed through the network by external cyber-criminals and that they are in fact coming from internal sources, generally students who reside on University campuses. According to Warwick Ashford, the security editor for Computer Weekly, the report is based on a study of 246 customers who use a programme called the Vectra Cognito Platform. Vectra, a threat management firm conducted the study by using their platform to locate invisible attackers on networks. The full report (which can be found here https://blog.vectra.ai/blog/the-alarming-surge-in-cryptocurrency-mining-on-college-campuses) discusses the applications of malicious crypto-mining and why it is a risk, not just to the people within the universities but to the entire cryptocurrency industry on the whole. The report by Vectra states:
âCryptocurrency mining is an opportunistic attack behaviour that uses botnets to create a large pool of computing power. It is considered more of a nuisance than a targeted cyberattack that putsÂ personally identifiable informationÂ (PII),Â protected health informationÂ (PHI) and financial data at risk. But in some instances, these botnet activities present a high risk to organizations:
- They create noise that can may hide serious security issues;
- They impact the reputation of an organizationâs IP address, causing it to be black listed;
- Cybercriminals will buy access to compromised computers from crypto-jackers to launch targeted attacks against universities.