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Is it possible to detect bitcoins mined where it may be against an organization's computer usage policy? E.g., Bitcoins mined secretly on corporate or university computers when the policies of the organization do not allow such use of its computational hardware.

And are there any ethical guidelines developed to discourage such use?

  • This is kind of a moot question. When ASICs start shipping in quantity, there won't be much point in mining on GPUs or FPGAs anymore. – Stephen Gornick Apr 10 '13 at 10:17
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An enterprise network administrator concerned with the operation on its systems of software that contradicts policy should already employ some kind of security scanner software. Adding the known miners to that list of flagged software is the best recourse. Additionally, watching for outbound connections to the known DNS names for peer lookup or outbound connections on a certain few known ports could yield better results with less software impeding operation.

In short, they're just programs, and administrators should already have in place the tools and knowledge necessary to block the programs from running or detect that they are running.

For ethics, the general vibe in the community is mine only on hardware you own, but obviously, not everyone follows that.

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It will depend on how granular the organisation is monitoring their electricity consumption. Is it one electric meter per organisation? One electric meter per floor? or one electric per department/division? The more electric meters they have, the easier for them to the detect abnormal consumption from the illegal mining operation.

Analyzing of organisation firewall logs may provide some clues. Check for machines with excessive port 8333 connection. This may result in some false positive as there may be other applications also using that port, but it will allow you to narrow down the investigation.

I don't think an ethical guideline is sufficient to deter people from stealing organisation computing resource for mining, especially now that the bitcoin price has skyrocketed.

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Is it possible to detect illegally mined bitcoins

The short answer is not easily if at all. As far as I'm aware, certain hacker groups use botnets to mine for bitcoin- but, with the development of certain hardware, the only defence is that it's becoming impractical to do this.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21964881)

As far as I'm aware there is no real way to tell which machine a bitcoin was generated on, only what account it was attributed to.

are there any ethical guidelines developed to discourage such use?

It's basic misuse of corporate services - "You're" using a system you do not own to generate money - which is generally considered illegal or gross misconduct.

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