Scientists at Russian Nuclear Facility Arrested for Cryptocurrency Mining

February 28, 2018
cryptocurrency mining
article by Christina W. author
Scientists at one of Russia’s nuclear facilities have been arrested for attempting to use the site’s research computers for cryptocurrency mining.

The mining of cryptocurrency has become more prominent due to the popularity of currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Reports have introduced millionaires who made their fortune from cryptocurrencies and many are looking to join in on the phenomenon. However, government officials are concerned with the rise of the virtual currencies. They believe that the currencies are faulty, which makes them dangerous for consumers, and hard to regulate. Several agencies, like the European Supervisory Authorities, have condemned virtual currencies and warned consumers about the currencies’ risk.

“The ESA warns consumers that VCs (virtual currencies) are highly risky and unregulated products and are unsuitable as investment, savings or retirement planning products,” the agency said.

The watchdogs claim that cryptocurrencies are experiencing a price bubble that puts consumers at a high risk. They note that consumers are likely to lose all of the money that they invested over a short period of time.

Crimes, like cryptocurrency mining, have been common amongst hackers who are looking for easy money. According to BBC, the crime occurred at the Federal Nuclear Center. The site is located in Sarov. The closed city is dedicated to nuclear research and off-limits to visitors and civilians. Tatiana Zalesskaya claims that several workers were detained for using the site’s computers for personal reasons, included mining cryptocurrency.

“Their activities were stopped in time,” said Zalesskaya. “The bungling miners have been detained by the competent authorities. As far as I know, a criminal case has been opened regarding them.”

Many believe that the group was trying to use the nuclear center’s supercomputer, which can make calculations of 1,000 trillion calculations per second, to mine bitcoin. Mining cryptocurrency, like bitcoin, requires powerful computers. Miners also prefer to use cheaper options so it is no surprise that the perpetrators chose a nuclear facility for their mission. The facility does not know if the group targeted the supercomputer or regular personal computers in the nuclear facility. The miners were caught after attempted to use machines that had been kept offline to prevent hackers from gaining access. When the miners tried to connect the machines to the internet, they alerted the security team. After the miners accidentally alerted the facility’s computer team, the Federal Security Service of Russia was flagged.

Unfortunately, these threatening occurrences are not uncommon and officials expect similar events in the future. It is no surprise that the Russian agency is taking the attempt very seriously and working to put an end to mining cryptocurrency.

“Similar attempts have recently been registered in a number of large companies with large computing capacities, which will be severely suppressed at our enterprises, this is technically a hopeless and criminal offense,” Zalesskaya said.

The center has more than 20,000 employees. The names of the perpetrators have not been released. Other Russian facilities have also been used for illegal mining. However, the details of those events have not been specifically disclosed.


Source: The Verge/ CNBC