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Scientists Arrested for Mining Cryptocurrency at Nuclear Facility

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In increasing interest (and value) of cryptocurrencies has led some previously rational people to come up with some wacky schemes to get rich quick. Case in point: Several Russian scientists working in one of the country’s most secure research facilities thought they could use the in-house supercomputer to mine some coins. It was an interesting plan, but the future crypto millionaires were stopped by authorities before their mining operation could get off the ground, reported Extreme Tech.

The scheme took place at the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, just south-east of Moscow. This is one of Russia’s “closed cities” where only authorized personnel are permitted. This facility in particular is the birthplace of the Soviet Union’s first working nuclear weapon. It still does nuclear research, and to that end, researchers deployed a shiny new supercomputer there in 2011. It was capable of one petaflop or processing, making it the 12th most powerful system in the world. Because of the classified nature of its work, Russia has not released many details on its design. We just know that it’s based on x86 CPUs, and it’s probably more powerful now than it was in 2011.

The alleged perpetrators of the mining scheme apparently thought they could put some of that processing power to use generating cryptocurrency. It takes a lot of processing power and electricity to generate valuable virtual coins, so miners either have to set up shop where power is very cheap or consider some less-than-ethical means. Although, even a supercomputer probably wouldn’t be able to mine much Bitcoin right now on its conventional hardware.

Due to the sensitive nature of work done at the facility, many of the computer systems are disconnected from the internet, known as air-gapping. The scientists were caught when attempting to connect the secure internal network to the internet. Mining rigs need to connect to other devices on a cryptocurrency’s network in order to verify transactions and show “proof of work” to get new coins.

Read more at extremetech.com

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Location: Russia
Location: Russia
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