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Russian Scientists Arrested For Cryptomining With Supercomputer

Have you ever wondered how much money you could make mining cryptocurrency with a supercomputer? Multiple people in Russia who had access to one of the country’s most powerful computers allowed their curiosity to get the best of them, and they wound up in jail for it.

Russian news agency, Interfax, reported that multiple employees of the Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, which is part of the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, Russia, have been “detained for mining cryptocurrency in the workplace.”

Interfax spoke with Tatyanna Zalesskaya, a press representative for the Federal Nuclear Center, who confirmed that multiple employees were apprehended. "Indeed, there was an attempt to unauthorized use of office computing capacities for personal purposes, including for so-called mining," Zalesskaya, told Interfax.

Zalesskaya didn’t share many details about the incident with the Russian news agency, but she also noted that the recent incident wasn’t the first time that employees had been caught using company equipment to mine cryptocurrency. BBC News reported that the culprits were mining "Bitcoin." However, the term "Bitcoin" has become somewhat of a proprietary eponym (like saying "Kleenex" when you mean "tissues") that represents all cryptocurrencies.

Curiously, the hashrate of the Bitcoin mining network dropped from a peak of 24,293,141 TH/s on February 6, to less than 20,000,000 TH/s on February 7. However, the drop in hashing power could be due to the recent drop in Bitcoin's value.

Interfax noted that the computer in question is capable of 1 petaflop of computational power. However, it would be difficult to determine how well that power would translate to mining potential. It’s also unclear how long the supercomputer was used for mining before the company caught on and shut it down.

We would need more information to make an informed estimate of how much these crooked scientists made off with, but it’s still fun to imagine how many coins they mined.

  • Dark Lord of Tech
    Every government partakes in this mining craze , not just Russians.
    Reply
  • vern72
    Now that's "Living the Dream"! I wonder how many coins they got.
    Reply
  • Dark Lord of Tech
    Why not it was their part time job...LOL :)
    Reply
  • Uilleam
    I work at a place where they get government orders for servers with around 8 video cards or so all the time. Your tax dollars at work...
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20690550 said:
    I work at a place where they get government orders for servers with around 8 video cards or so all the time. Your tax dollars at work...
    Right. The only thing those could be used for is mining. puh-lease.

    At my (non-government) job, we use multi-GPU setups for machine learning and video transcoding.

    The traditional (and most likely government use) of multi-GPU would probably be things like running simulations, brute-force code cracking, speech recognition, video analytics, etc. The only case where governments are probably doing anything with cryptocurrencies is tracing illicit transactions through the blockchain, in pursuit of criminals and terrorists.

    Cryptocurrencies are getting so much press, it's like people forget all the other GPU-compute applications out there. In fact, I suspect AI is probably a close second in non-gaming applications driving demand for GPUs, after cryptocoins.
    Reply
  • Uilleam
    I never said they used them specifically for mining and only mining. I know for a fact where I live some local government offices order systems that are gaming computers just to run Excel. Either they are mining are playing games at work. The guy that orders these computers asks us to break up the order in smaller invoices so it doesn't raise any flag at the office. He never said that but it was obvious what he was doing. It's just more government waste, abuse and overspending. I have nothing to do with the builds or invoicing. I do repairs.

    I know where these computers are going and what they are doing. I can't disclose who we sell them to specifically. Some are medical, military and educational institutions.
    Reply
  • Saga Lout
    I'd tell them to keep up the good work. While they're doing that they're leaving the rest of us alone.
    Reply
  • popatim
    Russia will make them the head of the SuperComputing Mining Dept once they realize how much money it was making them... or shoot them and put someone's nephew in charge. LoL
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20691196 said:
    I never said they used them specifically for mining and only mining. I know for a fact where I live some local government offices order systems that are gaming computers just to run Excel.
    That's unfortunate. So, these are for local government (i.e. city/state)?

    20691196 said:
    The guy that orders these computers asks us to break up the order in smaller invoices so it doesn't raise any flag at the office.
    Not saying this is the reason, but sometimes orders get broken up because purchases above a certain dollar amount need approval at a higher level or need to go through a competitive bidding process and people just don't want to deal with any of that.

    20691196 said:
    He never said that but it was obvious what he was doing. It's just more government waste, abuse and overspending. I have nothing to do with the builds or invoicing. I do repairs.

    I know where these computers are going and what they are doing. I can't disclose who we sell them to specifically. Some are medical, military and educational institutions.
    After so many years of budget cutting (does anyone remember the "sequester"?), most government agencies don't have enough budget to even think of fulfilling their mandate. This makes me quite skeptical, but I guess things might be different under the current administration that's not had a great track record of running things very well.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20693868 said:
    Russia will make them the head of the SuperComputing Mining Dept once they realize how much money it was making them... or shoot them and put someone's nephew in charge. LoL
    For a big country, there's not enough money to be made in crypto to be worth the effort or risk. Plus, they should already be getting tax revenue from their citizens who are mining.

    For smaller countries with cheap electricity, perhaps. Like, if your North Korea, and you've got all these nuclear plants for churning out plutonium, then why not? Or maybe you're Iceland, and you've got more geothermal energy than you know what to do with.
    Reply