Galveston ISD employee out of a job after cryptocurrency mining machines found around schools

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) — A former Galveston ISD employee is under investigation as school leaders found several cryptocurrency mining machines on campuses.

THE INVESTIGATION STARTED WITH A DISCOVERY INSIDE AN ISOLATED AREA INSIDE BALL HIGH SCHOOL

Devices found inside Ball High School shocked neighbors who were puzzled about why someone would set-up a wand, cables, and router.

“I feel like that’s very untrustworthy, and you’ve been working here for years,” former student, Syriaha Smith said. “I just want to know what made you want to do that.”

Superintendent Jerry Gibson won’t say who the person is, except they no longer work for the district. A couple weeks ago, the district’s firewall discovered several pings, which lead to the discovery of cryptocurrency mining machines at six campuses.

“That’s my philosophy,” Gibson said. “You build things on trust. You make investments in peoples’ lives. When you do that and the return on the investment is not what you want, it stinks.”

Gibson says no student, or faculty information was compromised.

WHAT IS A CYRPTOCURRENCY MINING MACHINE?

Texas Blockchain Council president, Lee Bratcher said mining machines aren’t meant to hack, but help the bitcoin network. “The miners are securing the network and in payment in that they’re rewarded by the code base, which is 6.25 bitcoin currently,” Bratcher explained.

The more machines you have, the more money you receive. Every ten minutes, Bratcher said $250,000 is distributed in rewards.

In order to run the machines, you need power. “If you’re able to run one of these machines that has a facility that has a lower power contract, you’re able to be more profitable,” Bratcher explained.

Galveston ISD leaders said the now former employee didn’t have permission to set-up machines and use school power.

GALVESTON ISD MAKES CHANGES AFTER MINING DEVICES FOUND IN ISOLATED AREAS

The devices were found in areas where few had access. “If a principal needs to get in there, they’re going to get in there,” Gibson explained. “We will double check that to make sure that every single principal in this district has keys to every lock on their campus.”

Despite the change, the district isn’t done with its investigation. Although the employee is gone, they could receive further action. School leaders could turn their findings to the district attorney’s office.

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