Russian authorities recently arrested several nuclear weapons engineers at the country’s All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics. Their crime? Using the facility’s on-site supercomputer in order to mine Bitcoin.
The Russian authorities noticed that something was amiss when the one petaflop-capable supercomputer came online, which prompted the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to investigate the anomaly. “There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining,” Tatyana Zalesskaya, head of the Institute’s press service, said briefly about the matter.
By default, the facility’s supercomputer – and all its other computers, for that matter – is not meant to be connected to the internet. The machine is used to simulate tests for nuclear weapons designs, and having the machine connected to the internet simply increases the risk of hackers stealing sensitive data.
Despite its volatility, Bitcoin mining is still an extremely lucrative enterprise. Gaining the cryptocurrency requires computers to solve super complex equations, also known as blocks. As a basic rule of thumb; the more powerful the computer is, the more Bitcoin one stands to gain.
So, when you have a supercomputer at your disposal, it’s not hard to see why those engineers gave into the temptation of disregarding national security for the capitalist venture.