Headmaster in China fired after being caught using school computers to mine cryptocurrency

The headmaster of a school in China has been fired after teachers found that he had connected a series of cryptocurrency-mining devices to the school’s power and internet networks.

Local media reports that Lei Hua, the head of Puman Middle School in China’s Hunan Province, installed eight machines in a school classroom over the last year.

Cryptocurrency mining uses computer hardware to perform calculations which result in digital coins being generated. This can be converted into normal currency or kept as cryptocurrency. Powerful mining machines can generate more cryptocurrency, but typically become hot and noisy when operating and use large amounts of power.

The mining machines in Puman Middle School were reportedly discovered after staff at the school noticed a whirring noise and problems with the school’s computer network.

The headteacher reportedly started operating a mining machine in his own home to mine the Ethereum cryptocurrency, but moved the device to the school after discovering the large amount of electricity required to run the device.

Puman Middle School’s electricity bill was affected by the machines, with one local report claiming that the cryptocurrency miners used 14,700 yuan (£1,600) of electricity. This rise in usage caused the school’s energy bill to almost double from earlier in the year.

The headmaster lost his job after the discovery of the mining machines and was removed from the local branch of the Communist Party. The deputy headmaster, who was also involved, received a warning.

The illicit use of corporate networks and computers to mine cryptocurrency has been a common problem in recent years.

In February, several scientists working at a nuclear research facility in Russia were arrested after using the centre’s powerful supercomputer to mine Bitcoin.

Earlier this year, it emerged that thousands of government websites in the UK had been hijacked by hackers and used to mine cryptocurrency through the computers of people visiting the websites.