Illegal cryptocurrency mining has taken over as the primary money-generating methodology for many cybercriminals, but even companies attempting to mine digital currency legally are running into some problems.
The City of Plattsburgh, New York is considering a ban on cryptocurrency mining within its city limits, not due to any illegal activity, but because the power being used to create the money could potentially cause a massive drain on the local electric grid. There is currently only a single cryptocurrency operation in the city, but another has also recently located nearby creating fears additional companies might start cropping up and taxing the power company's ability.
Plattsburgh BTC is a bitcoin cloud mining operation that sells mining contracts to interested individuals and then distributes the funds created to those who buy in. Unlike illegal cryptocurrency mining that hijacks the processor power of unsuspecting computers by installing malware, Plattsburgh BTC is a completely legitimate operation, but its mere presence has caused the city to consider banning such operations, according to a report from WCAX.com.
“They are not actually concerned about our energy use because we use so little, but these large operations are coming in and using huge amounts of power suddenly. And unfortunately we have been singled out as the culprit for all this because these operations are not from the area and can be hard to get ahold of,” David Bowman, CEO of Plattsburgh BTC told SC Media.
The city will hold a public meeting next month to discuss the potential moratorium.
Bowman's firm operates 20 computers mining bitcoin. He and WCAX cited a larger operation in the nearby town of Massena that uses 15 megawatts of power, which is more than Plattsburgh uses, as one of the reasons these operations have popped onto the city's radar.
Plattsburgh's mayor has not yet responded to an SC Media request for response.
Plattsburgh's city officers are not the only government officials in the world concerned with the amount of power being used by currency miners. In January China moved to ban the practice with provincial officials being told to pressure miners to cease and desist and specifically citing energy use as the reason. China is the world's largest producer of digital currency. South Korea moved in the same direction in February.
On the other side of the law from Plattsburgh BTC sit the massive number of cybercriminals using every tool in their box to install mining software on every type of computing device available. This includes desktops, servers, mobile devices and even low-powered IoT products.
Kaspersky Labs reported that by the end of 2017, 2.7 million users had been attacked by malicious miners – this is almost 1.5 times higher than in 2016. The reason behind cybercriminals abandoning many other types of money earnings operations, such as ransomware, for mining includes its skyrocketing valuation to the fact that the money generated is clean and can be directly exchanged for fiat currency.