Russian nuclear weapons engineers caught minting blockchange with supercomputer

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Mining, a process that verifies cryptocurrency transactions, can be a profitable enterprise if you have a powerful enough computer, and in earlier days could generate useful returns.

Sarov is part of the heart of Russia's nuclear operations.

In a report from global Business Times (autoplay video warning), a number of Russian nuclear scientists were arrested for allegedly using lab equipment to mine for cryptocurrencies. According to the Russian news service Mash, someone at the Institute attempted to connect the supercomputer to the Internet, and that attempt was detected by the FSB, launching an investigation.

Zalesskaya did not say how many people were detained, and the Federal Security Service (FSB) has not issued a statement on the arrests or criminal charges pending.

The scientists were handed over to the Federal Security Service, the BBC reported.


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.

During the cold war, Sarov was a top-secret city in the Nizhny Novgorod region, about 500km (300 miles) east of Moscow.

Because of the nature of the work at the Institute, technically none of the Institute's computers-including its 1-petaflop capable supercomputer, used for simulating tests of nuclear weapons designs-is supposed to be connected to the Internet.

Provide computer processing power to the crypto system, and you're rewarded in bitcoin.

The town is surrounded by a tightly guarded no-man's-land, with barbed wire fences to keep the curious away. It's a ideal fit, as mining cryptocurrencies requires great computational power and huge amounts of energy. Multiple people in Russian Federation 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.

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