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Russian nuclear scientists in Bitcoin mining arrests

Sarov is where the terrifying Tsar Bomba hydrogen bomb was made. (Source: Gizmodo)
Sarov is where the terrifying Tsar Bomba hydrogen bomb was made. (Source: Gizmodo)
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained a group of scientists who attempted to use a supercomputer at a top secret nuclear facility to mine Bitcoin. Security was alerted when the would-be miners tried to connect the computer to the Internet.

With Bitcoin offering constantly skyrocketing values, it’s no surprise that people not involved in the IT/data/finance industries are now trying to get their hands on some of this precious digital currency. Stories about Bitcoin millionaires and lucky data miners amassing general cryptocurrency fortunes can be found all over the Internet; it’s enough to make any underpaid government worker want to harness the power of a supercomputer they have access to just to mine some much-needed cash. But when your government work involves being a nuclear scientist in Russia, this would be a foolhardy option.

It appears several workers at a Russian nuclear facility in the closed town of Sarov decided it would be a worthwhile scheme to put their supercomputer (1 petaflop capacity) to better use than silly old nuclear station stuff. But to mine Bitcoin, the device needed to have an active connection to the Internet. Naturally, a supercomputer at a top secret Russian nuclear facility would have a mountain of safeguards in place to protect against tinkering, including barring attempts at being connected to the WWW. The careless scientists were soon apprehended by Russian officials and will face criminal charges.

With a single Bitcoin being currently valued at over half a million Russian rubles (~$8,638), it can be seen why a few strapped-for-cash Russian scientists might be willing to unwittingly unleash nuclear secrets onto the Internet just for a chance to fill an empty Bitcoin wallet.


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Daniel R Deakin, 2018-02-10 (Update: 2018-02-10)