Russian nuclear scientists arrested for allegedly hijacking supercomputer to mine Bitcoins

What are your staff up to behind your back?

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Russian nuclear scientists arrested for allegedly hijacking supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency

You might think it’s bad enough if your staff steal Post-It notes, biros, or the office stapler…

…or don’t return their office-supplied smartphone when they leave the company.

But, as BBC News reports, staff at the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov, western Russia, have allegedly “borrowed” something rather more significant in their desire to earn some extra cash:

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Russian security officers have arrested several scientists working at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility for allegedly mining crypto-currencies.

The suspects had tried to use one of Russia’s most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoins, media reports say.

The Federal Nuclear Centre’s supercomputer is said to be capable of operating at 1 petaflop or – to use language we can all understand – a mere thousand trillion floating point operations per second.

That’s an awful lot of computing power to point towards cryptomining, and is likely to outperform the typical dude in his back bedroom who has set up half a dozen graphics cards into his own cryptocurrency mining rig.

Who gives a damn about third-party unchecked code downloaded off the internet running on your nuclear facility’s supercomputer? Who needs state-sponsored hackers to knock out your nuclear facility’s operations with advanced malware if you can’t trust what your own staff might be up to behind your back?

For further discussion of this issue be sure to check out this episode of the “Smashing Security” podcast:

Smashing Security #065: 'Cryptominomania, Poppy, and your Amazon Alexa'

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Pocket Casts | Other... | RSS
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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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