A number of scientists engaged at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility were arrested on allegations that they were engaged in cryptocurrency mining by Russian security officers.
According to media reports, one of Russia’s most powerful supercomputers was attempting to be used by the suspects for mining Bitcoins.
The incident took place at the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov, western Russia, which is a restricted installation.
The centre’s press service said: “There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining.”
The security department of the nuclear center was immediately alerted after the scientists tried to connect the supercomputer, which is not allowed to be connected to the internet for safeguarding against intrusion, to the external internet. The Russian news service Mash says that the arrested scientists were later handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB).
“As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them,” the press service told Interfax news agency.
Centralized computer servers are not needed for crypto-currencies like Bitcoin. these cryptocurrencies are provided as rewards to people who provide computer processing power for the virtual currency system for conducting transactions of the virtual currency.
Sarov was the town where USSR’s first nuclear bomb was manufactured during Joseph Stalin’s rule during the Cold War.
Even now Russians require to possess special passes to get into the town and the town is not even marked on the map. The curious visitor is kept away from Sarov by barbed wire fences and no-man’s-land that is tightly guarded surrounds it.
It is suspected that Sarov was the place of production for the radioactive polonium-210 that was put to use for the killing ex-FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.
There are about 20.000 people employed at the Federal Nuclear Centre and the supercomputer there has that capacity of 1 petaflop – which is the same as making about1,000 trillion calculations every second.
A great amount of energy and great computational power is required for the mining of cryptocurrencies.
It has been reported that two power stations were bought out by a businessman for cryptocurrency mining. It is among a number of other reports about the use of some other industrial facilities in the country for crypto-mining.
Bitcoin is a form of alternative currency that largely exists online. It is not printed by governments or traditional banks. According to Dr Garrick Hileman of the Judge Business School at University of Cambridge, bitcoin is “not legal tender, you can’t pay your taxes or use it to settle debts”.
A network of computers across the world monitors the so-called mining of bitcoins which is a complex process for creating bitcoins. It involves solving very complex problems that are often beyond the cope ordinary computers and computing powers.
(Adapted from BBC.com)