Russian scientists try to mine cryptocoins with state computers

Posted Feb 12, 2018 by Ken Hanly
Russian scientists employed at the secret Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov have been arrested for trying to use the powerful research computers to make themselves some extra money by mining cryptocurrencies.
Chain of block erupters used for Bitcoin mining is pictured at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunn...
Chain of block erupters used for Bitcoin mining is pictured at the Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, California
Stephen Lam / Reuters
Sarov is one of a number of closed cities that were created in the former Soviet Union(USSR) where nuclear research was carried out. The cities are off-limits to travellers and are not included in Russian maps.
Culprits discovered before any mining happened
Tatiana Zalesskaya, a spokesperson for the Sarov facility said that several researchers were detained after attempting to use the facilities' computer facilities for personal ends including "so-called mining", saying: “Their activities were stopped in time. The bungling miners have been detained by the competent authorities. As far as I know, a criminal case has been opened regarding them.”
Some reports are suggesting the group was attempting to use the supercomputer to mine bitcoin. Mining cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin require huge amounts of power and the supercomputer would have plenty for the purpose. It is common for computer power to be hijacked for mining purposes. As noted in a recent Digital Journal article some porn sites are actually using the power of viewers' computers to mine cryptocoins.
How culprits were discovered
The researchers tried to connect some computers that were kept permanently offline in order to keep them safe from hackers. When the scientists tried to connect them to the internet to mine this caused an alert picked up by the facility's security team who immediately contacted Russia's Federal Security Service.
Zalesskava warned that any similar attempts in future would be dealt with severely and were punishable as crimes.
Bitcoin mining
Bitcoin mining is a process by which transactions on the bitcoin blockchain are verified and blocks added to the public ledger. It is also the means by which new bitcoin is released.
Recent transactions are compiled into blocks and computational puzzles must be solved. The miner who solves the puzzle first gets to put the next block on the block chain and also claim the rewards. The rewards are not only the transactions fees linked to the block but also newly released bitcoin. The process is described briefly in the video below.
Mining bitcoin can use huge amounts of power as noted on the appended video claiming to be of the largest bitcoin mining operation (farm) in Russia.