Nuclear scientists in Russia arrested for using supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency

Employers typically frown upon using company resources for personal gain, and some scientists at a nuclear weapons facility in Russia are finding that out the hard way. Apparently the scientists used a supercomputer at the facility to mine cryptocurrency, and were subsequently arrested, BBC reports.

"There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining," Tatyana Zalesskaya, head of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre told Interfax news agency.

The nuclear facility is a restricted area located in Sarov, a tightly guarded top-secret town surrounded by barbed wire. During the Cold War, the USSR's first atomic bomb was produced at Sarov.

There are about 20,000 people employed at the facility currently. It has a supercomputer that is capable of 1 petaflop. The supercomputer is not supposed to be connected to the internet, which was the scientists' undoing—once they attempted an online connection to mine cryptocurrency, an alert was sent to the facility's security department, which in turn contacted the Federal Security Service (FSB).

"As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them," the facility's press service said.

According to Ars Technica, there has been so much interest in cryptocurrency mining in Russia that a businessman named Alexey Kolesnik recently purchased two power plants in the Russian republics Perm Krai and Udmurtia, with plans of harnessing them for Bitcoin mining. There have also been other attempts to illicitly use corporate systems for mining.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).