Russian Scientists Arrested For Using Nuclear Lab’s Supercomputer To Mine Cryptocurrencies

Crime, News | February 12, 2018 By:

Russian authorities have arrested two scientists working at a Russian nuclear weapons research facility for allegedly mining cryptocurrencies using the facility’s supercomputers.

The supercomputers are housed in the All Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov, a restricted area with high security. The facility is the former Soviet Union’s premier research and development center for nuclear weapons. The first Soviet atomic bomb was developed in the facility in the late 1940s, after which the facility continued as a center for nuclear weapons research.

The scientists were allegedly caught red-handed after connecting the supercomputers to the Internet, which usually stays offline to ensure security. Because Internet access is such a grave offense for these supercomputers, alarms went off immediately.

Tatyana Zalesskaya, head of the Institute’s press service, said the scientists were handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB). “As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them,” she said.

There have also been other attempts to illicitly use corporate’s high computing power for crypto mining. Zalesskaya said that these sorts of schemes “will be severely suppressed at our enterprises. This is technically a hopeless and criminal offense.”

In December 2017, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev said that the government, while working on legislation to legalize the trade of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICO), could criminalize crypto mining activities.

“The penalties will be different, mostly administrative, but if someone created the cryptocurrency for the purpose of settlements, then there will be a criminal punishment,” said Moiseev.