Russian Scientists Arrested for Mining Cryptocurrency at Nuclear Facility

Russian Scientists Arrested for Mining Cryptocurrency at Nuclear Facility

In increasing interest (and value) of cryptocurrencies has led some previously rational people to come up with some wacky schemes to get rich quick. Case in point: Several Russian scientists working in one of the country’s most secure research facilities thought they could use the in-house supercomputer to mine some coins. It was an interesting plan, but the future crypto millionaires were stopped by authorities before their mining operation could get off the ground.

The scheme took place at the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, just south-east of Moscow. This is one of Russia’s “closed cities” where only authorized personnel are permitted. This facility in particular is the birthplace of the Soviet Union’s first working nuclear weapon. It still does nuclear research, and to that end, researchers deployed a shiny new supercomputer there in 2011. It was capable of one petaflop or processing, making it the 12th most powerful system in the world. Because of the classified nature of its work, Russia has not released many details on its design. We just know that it’s based on x86 CPUs, and it’s probably more powerful now than it was in 2011.

The alleged perpetrators of the mining scheme apparently thought they could put some of that processing power to use generating cryptocurrency. It takes a lot of processing power and electricity to generate valuable virtual coins, so miners either have to set up shop where power is very cheap or consider some less-than-ethical means. Although, even a supercomputer probably wouldn’t be able to mine much Bitcoin right now on its conventional hardware.

Russian Scientists Arrested for Mining Cryptocurrency at Nuclear Facility

Due to the sensitive nature of work done at the facility, many of the computer systems are disconnected from the internet, known as air-gapping. The scientists were caught when attempting to connect the secure internal network to the internet. Mining rigs need to connect to other devices on a cryptocurrency’s network in order to verify transactions and show “proof of work” to get new coins.

The facility’s security team notified Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) upon detecting the rogue connections, and the scientists were arrested. A spokesperson for the Federal Nuclear Center says that a criminal case against the scientists is now ongoing, and there’s every reason to expect Russian authorities will throw the proverbial book at the hopeful miners. So in case you were thinking about hijacking a classified Russian supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency, you might want to look elsewhere.

Continue reading

Trump Administration: End ISS Funding, Return to Lunar Exploration

The Trump administration has called for NASA to cease funding ISS operations in 2024, in order to divert that money into manned lunar exploration in 2025.

YouTube Is Serving Covert Cryptocurrency Mining Ads

Cryptocurrency mining in-browser (and without user consent) is finally infecting sites like YouTube, to the widespread detriment of the site's users.

Trump Administration Denies Plan to Nationalize 5G Network

A memo leaked from the Trump administration discusses the possibility of nationalizing the 5G networks under construction in the US, but the administration states it has no plans to do so.

Samsung Begins Manufacturing ASIC Chips for Mining Cryptocurrency

Samsung isn't mining coins itself, but it is using its massive manufacturing capacity to produce so-called "application specific integrated circuits" or ASIC chips for use in mining rigs.