FSB detains Sarov nuclear center engineers for cryptocurrency mining

Howard TerryFeb 11, 2018

The engineers were caught red-handed after connecting the supercomputer to the internet, which usually stays offline to ensure security. Graphics card prices are through the roof, mainstream news outlets are covering the volatility of Bitcoin, and now it appears that even Russian nuclear scientists are getting in on the action.

The number of scientists has not been specified, but they are understood to have worked at the restricted Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF), located in the city of Sarov, Nizhny Novgorod. "As far as I know, a criminal case has been opened regarding them", she added, without saying how many were detained.

Employers typically frown upon using company resources for personal gain, and some scientists at a nuclear weapons facility in Russian Federation are finding that out the hard way.

Not the Brightest Idea

The Sarov facility's security forces were notified of the illegal use of the supercomputer when it attempted to connect to the internet to add to the blockchain. Provide computer processing power to the crypto system, and you're rewarded in bitcoin. During the Cold war era, when Joseph Stalin was ruling the USSR, it was a Savrov where technicians manufactured the first nuclear bomb. It's also tightly guarded, surrounded by barbed wire fencing, and allegedly where the radioactive polonium-210 used to kill ex-FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko came from. It was first switched on in 2011 making it the 12th most powerful in the world.

The Federal Nuclear Centre's supercomputer has the capacity of 1 petaflop which means it is able to make 1,000 trillion calculations per second and, additionally, it is linked to the top-secret mainframe of the Russian army and secret services. One Russian businessman reportedly bought two power stations to mine digital coins.

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