Russian Scientists Arrested For Using a Top-Secret Government Computer For Mining Bitcoin

Some engineers working at a top-secret Russian nuclear research facility have been arrested by Russian security officers for allegedly using one of the country’s most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoin, reports BBC.

The alleged attempt to mine Bitcoin was carried out at the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, a top-secret area with high security where the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb was developed during the cold war.

“There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining,” The Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov stated, according to the BBC and the Russian news agency, Interfax. “As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them.”

The supercomputer that was reportedly used was not supposed to be connected to the internet for security reasons. However, it was used by the engineers for personal agendas that included mining for cryptocurrencies. The officials quickly realized something was not right after they were alerted that it had been connected.

“Their activities were stopped in time,” institute spokeswoman Tatiana Zalesskaya, told Interfax news agency.



“The bungling miners have been detained by the competent authorities. As far as I know, a criminal case has been opened regarding them,” she added, without saying how many were detained.

The arrested engineers have been handed over to the Federal Security Service. It is unclear when the crime had taken place or how many suspects were involved.

Cryptocurrencies require a great deal of computational power and energy consumption to turn a profit. The Federal Nuclear Center employs about 20,000 people and its supercomputer boasts a capacity of 1 petaflop, which is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second, the BBC reported.

Russia is turning into a breeding ground of cryptocurrency mining due to its low-cost energy reserves and computer takeovers are expected to only continue in all likelihood.

The Federal Nuclear Center is supervised by Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency, and works on producing nuclear weapons.

“Similar attempts have recently been registered in a number of large companies with large computing capacities, which will be severely suppressed at our enterprises,” Zalesskaya told the Russian news agency Interfax.

Such attempts “at our enterprises will be harshly put down, this activity technically has no future and is punishable as a crime”, she added.

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