Security authorities have arrested nuclear scientists working at a top secret Russian warhead center for trying to mine cryptocurrencies using supercomputers meant for war purposes.
Misappropriated Mining Attempt
Nuclear scientists’ turned-suspects attempted to use one of Russia’s most sophisticated supercomputers to mine bitcoins, according to the BBC. The Federal Nuclear Center is located in Sarov, Russia and is restricted from public access.
The news department of the center noted that:
“There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining. As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them.”
The supercomputers are always offline and are not meant to be connected to the internet to prevent external intrusion. So, when the scientists attempted to connect to the web, the nuclear center’s security department was alerted. The cryptocurrency crazy scientists were then immediately handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Sarov, which was known as Kremlyov until 1995, is a highly sensitive and restricted area. During the Cold war era, when Joseph Stalin was ruling the USSR, it was a Savrov where technicians manufactured the first nuclear bomb. As such it has earned the place as one of the most tightly guarded areas in Russia.
Even citizens who want to visit the town need to obtain special permits from the authorities first before doing so. But, when considering the technological force behind this lock safe, these precautions are warranted.
There are over twenty thousand workers at the Federal Nuclear Center, and the Center boasts of supercomputers with a vast capacity of one petaflop.
Petaflop computers are capable of carrying out one quadrillion floating point operations per second. The world’s’ fastest supercomputer, known as the Titan and based in Tennessee, has a capacity of 20 petaflops or the equivalent of 20 trillion complex calculations per second.
Mining Efficiency and Supercomputers
These features are relevant to the mining of cryptocurrencies as computational powers have multiplied substantially. As such, submarkets for ASIC computer chips, cooling systems, and even heavy-handed national regulation has brought global attention to the activity. Places like Iceland and Quebec are becoming hotspots for mining startups due to the cold weather and lenient government stance.
Naturally, a supercomputer capable of 20 trillion calculations per second is highly attractive from a mining perspective. It also returns to another threat to the Bitcoin network; Quantum computing. Such supercomputers, once launched, could pose risks to a cryptocurrency’s internal economy.
These developments also explain why bad actors in the crypto ecosystem are lancing illegal mining activities. On February 9, 2018, BTCManager reported on malicious mining developments in which hackers use people’s Android phones and Smart TVs to mine cryptocurrency at the expense of the real owners of these devices.