Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Russia Arrests Nuclear Scientists Who Used a Supercomputer to Mine Bitcoin

Russia Arrests Nuclear Scientists Who Used a Supercomputer to Mine Bitcoin

A powerful supercomputer located at a Russian nuclear research facility in Sarov was reportedly targeted by a pair of engineers who wanted to use it to mine cryptocurrencies.

The practice isn't unheard of in Russia, BBC says, as one businessman in the region apparently bought two power stations so that he could mine cryptocurrency.

The center was the birthplace of the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapons.

Employers typically frown upon using company resources for personal gain, and some scientists at a nuclear weapons facility in Russian Federation are finding that out the hard way. The Soviet Union's first atomic bomb was developed at the center, also known as the Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, and famed physicist and Nobel Peace Prize victor Andrey Sakharov worked there for 20 years.

The supercomputer was not supposed to be connected to the internet - to prevent intrusion - and once the scientists attempted to do so, the nuclear centre's security department was alerted.

Zalesskaya told Interfax that a large number of companies "with large computing capacity" have recently experienced attempts to harness their computing infrastructure for cryptocurrency mining, but the PR rep told Interfax that these sorts of schemes "will be severely suppressed at our enterprises".

Sarov is surrounded by a tightly guarded no-man's-land, with barbed wire fences to keep the curious away.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world.

Based in Sarov, a closed city about 400 kilometers from Moscow, the institute has some of Russia's most powerful super-computers in a special network isolated from the internet for security reasons.

There have been reports of some other industrial facilities in Russian Federation being used for crypto-mining, and one businessman reportedly bought two power stations for the activity.

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