Clandestine Crunch: Russians Busted Using Supercomputer to Mine Cryptocurrency

Russian scientists arrested for 'mining crypto-currencies' at top-secret base

Russian scientists arrested for 'mining crypto-currencies' at top-secret base

"There has been an attempt of unsanctioned use of workplace computing capacities for personal gain, including for so-called mining", the press service of the Sarov nuclear weapons facility told Interfax on Friday.

Cryptocurrency speculation and mining have generated so much interest in Russia that one businessman- Alexey Kolesnik-recently bought two power plants in the Russian republics of Perm Krai and Udmurtia to be used exclusively to generate electricity for Bitcoin-mining data centers. No official criminal charges have been announced and law enforcement has not said how many members of the operation were detained.

Tatyana Zalesskaya, head of the institute's press service, confirmed the arrests to Interfax.

The All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics in the town of Sarov is widely known for its petaflop-capable supercomputer, which was put into operation in 2011.

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She added that she understood a criminal case has been brought against the engineers. During the Cold War, the USSR's first atomic bomb was produced at Sarov. While the city is the home of Russia's Nuclear Weapons Museum, don't plan a visit anytime soon-access to Sarov is restricted, and no one who does not live in the city is allowed to visit without permission.

The engineers were caught red-handed after connecting the supercomputer to the internet, which usually stays offline to ensure security. The scientists attempted to connect to the internet for the effort, which alerted the institute's security department. Provide computer processing power to the crypto system, and you're rewarded in bitcoin. Because there is no centralized server, this task is farmed out to hundreds of thousands of devices around the world that work to solve the equations.

That's an very bad lot of computing power to point towards cryptomining, and is likely to outperform the typical dude in his back bedroom who has set up half a dozen graphics cards into his own cryptocurrency mining rig.

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