Staff at Russian nuclear facility caught using supercomputer to mine Bitcoins


Stealing staples and paper clips is minor league compared to what two Russian engineers are now facing after using one of the country’s most powerful supercomputers for their personal cryptocurrency mining gains. The incident took place at the highly secured Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, western Russia, the same facility used by scientists to create the Soviet Union’s first nuclear bomb during the Cold War.  

To understand the significance of the facility’s unauthorized use of the supercomputer, you have to paint a picture of the surrounding area. In the past, you didn’t see the top-secret town marked on any Russian map. It’s currently cut off from the rest of the world by a barren no man’s land that is guarded by soldiers and barricaded with barbed wire fences. Getting in and out of the area requires a special permit. 

The Federal Nuclear Center residing within the isolated town employs around 20,000 people. It plays host to a supercomputer that performs around 1,000 trillion calculations per second (1 petaflop). This supercomputer, which went live in 2011, is typically disconnected to the internet for security reasons. That is where the two busted miners made their mistake. 

According to reports, the two engineers accessed the supercomputer to mine Bitcoins, which requires lots of processing power and an internet connection. Once they manually connected the supercomputer to the internet, the facility’s security system immediately reported the connection to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Agents promptly investigated the suspicious activity, catching the miners in the act. 

Dubbed as the “Mountain Miners” by the media, the names of the two engineers were not disclosed. Both were released from custody but cannot leave the country. 

“Mountain miners were detained by competent authorities,” reads a translated statement from the Federal Nuclear Center. “As far as we know, a criminal case has been initiated against them. We draw attention to the fact that such attempts have recently been registered in a number of large companies with large computing capacities. At our enterprises, they will be severely suppressed. This is a technically unpromising and criminally punishable occupation.” 

The Bitcoin digital currency platform consists of multiple parts, such as generating coins and keeping track of transactions. There is no central point, like a bank, that manages these components. Instead, the platform depends on anonymous individuals and their PCs. Mining is a method of creating coins without paying for them, which requires loads of processing power. Russia’s supercomputer was unquestionably a prime candidate for mining Bitcoins.  

Cryptocurrency is reportedly on the rise in Russia. The government is considering the CryptoRuble for mid-2019, according to President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisor, Sergei Glazyev. These state-generated digital coins would be a means to settle sanctions and accounts with other nations. 

Meanwhile, residents and businesses are jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon, such as one individual who purchased two power stations just for mining purposes. Even more, an overheated electrical grid recently caused fires in residential apartment buildings due to large amounts of cryptocurrency mining. Other industrial industries are used for mining as well. 


It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how it did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.

‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.

Ditch the backdrop from your photos with these handy tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Here's how, whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence.

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.

Samsung permits peek at an eye-popping, 15-inch 4K OLED laptop display

Samsung is now preparing for the new OLED laptop trend and is providing a look at an eye-popping 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is expected to power larger premium laptops in the new year.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.