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10 February 2018, 03:29 | Devin Moran
Russian nuclear scientists arrested for 'Bitcoin mining plot'
"Indeed, there was an attempt to unauthorized use of office computing capacities for personal purposes, including for so-called mining", Zalesskaya, told Interfax.
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.
It is one of the two most powerful supercomputers in Russian Federation; the second such machine is based in the Siberian town of Snezhinsk. The supercomputer is not supposed to be connected to the internet, which was the scientists' undoing-once they attempted an online connection to mine cryptocurrency, an alert was sent to the facility's security department, which in turn contacted the Federal Security Service (FSB).
It's a historic developer of nuclear weapons that is still very much involved in keeping Russia's arsenal ready and up-to-date.
That's an terrible lot of computing power to point towards cryptomining, and is likely to outperform the typical dude in his back bedroom who has set up half a dozen graphics cards into his own cryptocurrency mining rig.
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Sarov, the location of a nuclear weapons lab where scientist are accused of a cyrptocurrency scheme, is also home to this museum showing several historic Russian nuclear bombs.
"As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them", the facility's press service said.
Using a supercomputer, miners would be able to solve the complex puzzles required to create more Bitcoin much quicker than a traditional computer would have been able to.
The town is surrounded by a tightly guarded no-man's-land, with barbed wire fences to keep the curious away.
Mining crypto-currencies requires great computational power and huge amounts of energy. There are even suspicions that the radioactive polonium-210 used to kill ex-FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 came from Sarov. BBC News reported that the culprits were mining "Bitcoin".
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