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Duo Arrested for Installing Crypto Mining Software on Department Store Computers

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Here's a fun one: Hot for Security reported (opens in new tab) that an unidentified Italian couple—let's call them Bonnie and Clyde—was recently arrested for installing cryptocurrency mining software on display models of new gaming laptops at various retailers.

The scheme appears to have been fairly straightforward. Bonnie reportedly distracted employees "by asking for help booting a laptop that she had bought at the store" so Clyde would be free to use a USB drive to compromise the target systems.

Those systems would then devote their computing power to mining Bitcoin using the NiceHash software, which Clyde could control using AnyDesk (opens in new tab). This popular remote desktop application is free to use on a variety of devices.

Bonnie and Clyde reportedly compromised "at least 16 computers at branches of the El Corte Inglés department store and Mediamarkt electronics retailer." There was just one problem: Employees noticed the compromised systems were running hot.

Cryptocurrency mining can easily strain a system's CPU and GPU—that's probably why the couple installed NiceHash on more than a dozen computers they didn't own. That way, they wouldn't have to worry about powering or wearing out their own gear.

Using more power generates more heat, and it turns out that most laptops aren't designed to melt their components, which means their fans kicked into high gear. Someone noticed this, checked security footage, and spotted Clyde's activity.

Hot for Security reported that law enforcement discovered "several hard drives, a partially-built PC, and a smartphone allegedly used to control the hacked computers' cryptomining operation" when they searched Bonnie and Clyde's house.

Both have been charged with "hacking into computer systems, fraud, and damage." (Which, frankly, is a happier ending than the actual Bonnie and Clyde got.)

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • ThatMouse
    Pretty bad that a major retailer gives full admin rights to employees and customers apparently. I worked for a major department store and you would have never been able to install anything or access any Windows functions from the store register. If these PC's are that wide open I would definitely not shop there.

    They should have gone for the credit card numbers instead. These bozos probably made 5 cents a month from a CPU based miner.
    Reply
  • Brian28
    ThatMouse said:
    Pretty bad that a major retailer gives full admin rights to employees and customers apparently. I worked for a major department store and you would have never been able to install anything or access any Windows functions from the store register. If these PC's are that wide open I would definitely not shop there.

    They should have gone for the credit card numbers instead. These bozos probably made 5 cents a month from a CPU based miner.

    These are the display models, not the registers. Customers expect to "play" with them a bit, though they still should be locked down, it's not a direct risk to the private sales data or credit cards.
    Reply
  • Krotow
    Feed them to lions.
    Reply