Security

Russian engineers arrested for mining cryptocurrency with office supercomputer

The engineers were employed at the Russian Federation Nuclear Center, a top secret facility in Sarov.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Engineers at the Russian Federation Nuclear Center were recently detained on suspicion of using a powerful research computer to mine cryptocurrency.
  • Companies must be prepared for the possibility that their employees may try to use company resources to mine cryptocurrency or conduct other illegal activities.

Engineers at a Russian nuclear facility were detained for allegedly using the facility's supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency. The incident occurred with employees in the experiment physics division of the Russian Federation Nuclear Center in Sarov, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Cryptocurrency mining has grown immensely popular with the rise (and fall) of popular currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Monero. Companies should monitor their employees CPU use, if possible, and develop a policy against using company resources to mine cryptocurrency or conduct other non-work tasks.

Tatyana Zalesskaya, head of the research institute press service, told Interfax that there was an attempt at "unauthorized use of office computing capacities for personal purposes, including for so-called mining." Zalesskaya later added that the engineers have been detained and a criminal case has been opened.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

The activity of mining cryptocurrency is massively compute-intensive. Many miners rely on GPUs to mine cryptocurrency, and that has actually led to a GPU shortage and high resale prices for certain models.

Incidents like the one in Sarov further demonstrate the means by which employees can ineffectively use an organization's resources, and IT must be aware of these insider threats. However, there are plenty of cryptocurrency-based attacks that could come from outside an organization as well.

Malicious miners don't want to use their own compute power to mine, so they rely on the compute power of others in a process known as cryptojacking. Hackers have placed botnets on Windows and Oracle servers to mine the virtual currency, and browser-based exploits are also on the rise. Even government websites have been cryptojacked, as reported by our sister site, ZDNet.

At the time of publication, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had not yet issued a statement on the arrest.

Also see

crypto.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/Iaremenko

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox