When will people learn that they shouldn’t be “mining on the job?” Unless you’re employed as a bitcoin miner, you should wait until you’re on your own time to engage in such activity.
Mining Can Be a Tricky – and Sometimes Illegal – Business
That’s what one Russian engineer is learning this week. Denis Baykov, a worker at the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, has been fined roughly 450,000 rubles (about $7,000 USD) for utilizing a supercomputer inside the nuclear facility in which he works to extract new bitcoins. At press time, it is not known how many units were mined.
Baykov’s activity was first linked to him on September 17. The employee pled guilty to utilizing government-backed power for his own benefit and for violating the agency’s security policies. He was later fined but is not likely to face prison time.
Baykov did not act alone. Two other employees of the same facility – Andrei Rybkin and Andrei Shatokhin – are also facing legal action and have pled guilty to being involved. They are presently charged with unlawfully using computer software and illegally accessing computer data.
A lawyer for the three defendants, Alexei Korolev, says that while the men were wrong to have engaged in the mining activity, they did not do it out of greed. He comments:
They regret what they did, but I think they went for it out of professional interest, not for the purpose of profit.
The men should have known that extracting new bitcoins would surely lead to attention they didn’t want. Bitcoin mining is known for its high energy use, with some sources claiming that mining utilizes as much energy as the city of Las Vegas.
The environmental concerns surrounding bitcoin mining have grown so large that some countries, such as China, are considering permanent bans on all crypto mining operations in the future, though the Chinese government has been saying this for years and has yet to take any action – probably because they realize companies like Bitmain, stationed within the country’s borders, are sources of great revenue.
This Has Happened Before
The three men in question have allegedly been mining bitcoin with the supercomputer for some time, with reports stemming back to February of 2018. The computer, which was not designed for online use, is believed to have been connected to the internet during this time, ultimately raising concerns with facility officials. A statement was later released, explaining:
There was an attempt at unauthorized use of office computing power for personal purposes, including for the so-called mining.
A previous case of using supercomputers to mine crypto was reported in Ukraine last August. Employees of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Station had been caught using “plant systems to power mining devices,” which ultimately led to the leaking of classified and sensitive information on the internet.