2 busted crypto mining on Russian gov’t computers

Two Russian citizens have been charged with mining cryptocurrencies on government-owned computers, prompting the government to warn local companies to be on the lookout for such activities.

The report by state media outlet TASS revealed that the two suspects had allegedly infected government websites with crypto mining malware. The report cited Nikolay Murashov, Deputy Director of the National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents, who announced the charges in a recent press conference.

Murashov stated, “In Russia, there have been two cases recently when people were brought to criminal responsibility for getting access to computers [of state organizations] and using them to mine cryptocurrencies.”

According to the report, one of the suspects is a resident of the city of Kurgan in Southern Russia. He allegedly “used almost a whole botnet in various regions of the country.” The second suspect is alleged to have used the website belonging to JSC Rostov vodokanal to mine cryptos.

Murashov noted that there has been an increase in the number of cryptojacking cases. With the mining costs for most cryptos being prohibitively high, unscrupulous people are turning to such tricks to make money without having to foot all the costs, he said.

The cryptojackers take advantage of the fact that they aren’t that easy to spot, he stated, adding, “Up to 80% of the computer’s free power can be used to generate virtual coins, and a legitimate user may not even know about it.”

This isn’t an isolated incident, despite the Russian government’s hard stance against the use of official resources for crypto mining. Just over a month ago, a nuclear scientist was sentenced to three years in prison for a similar crime.

The scientist, Andrey Rybkin, was found guilty of obtaining illegal access to digital information and the spreading of computer viruses. In addition to his prison sentence, he was also ordered to pay 200,000 rubles ($3,120) in fines. Rybkin’s two accomplices were sentenced to four years in prison each, but for reasons which are still unclear, the government allowed them to pay a 450,000 rubles ($7,180) fine instead.

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