Nuclear scientists in Russian Federation arrested for using supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency

A mining-farm in the territory of a technopolis in Moscow. File

Russian authorities say they have arrested several engineers employed at the the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov, a top secret nuclear weapons facility, because they were involved in a cryptocurrency-mining scheme at work. 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.

A surviving Tsar Bomba casing at Sarov's nuclear weapons museum.

"There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining", the center's press service told the BBC.

The supercomputer was not supposed to be connected to the internet - to prevent intrusion - and once the scientists attempted to do so, the nuclear centre's security department was alerted.

Shortly afterwards, the supercomputer's security system transmitted relevant data to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

The remarks, which didn't provide further details about the case, came in response to reports on social media on Thursday saying the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had busted two nuclear engineers. The Soviet Union's first atomic bomb was developed at the center, also known as the Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, and famed physicist and Nobel Peace Prize victor Andrey Sakharov worked there for 20 years.

In 2011, the center switched on a new supercomputer with a capacity of 1 petaflop, which at the time made it the twelfth most powerful in the world, Russian television reported.

The nuclear facility is a restricted area located in Sarov, a tightly guarded top-secret town surrounded by barbed wire. But it requires massive amounts of computing power and energy. However, it would be hard to determine how well that power would translate to mining potential.

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