Russian nuclear scientist busted mining crypto at work

A nuclear scientist in Russia has been fined by authorities after it was revealed he had attempted to use one of the country’s most powerful supercomputers to mine BTC at work.

Denis Baykov, an employee of the secretive All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov, some 400km outside Moscow, was fined 450,000 rubles by a court in the city.

Equivalent to $7,000, the fine follows his conviction on charges of turning the supercomputer to mining BTC in his own interest, in partnership with several colleagues.

In court, Baykov was found guilty of charges including illegally accessing data and violations of rules around computer operation. A further two employees at the facility, Andrei Rybkin and Andrei Shatokhin, are awaiting sentence in connection with the allegations.

According to local media, the men were tasked with overseeing the upkeep of the secretive site and the technology housed there, responsibilities they are said to have abused through their crypto mining deception.

The top-secret site on which the first Soviet nuclear weaponry was developed in 1949, Sarov hosts some of Russia’s most powerful supercomputers, capable of rapidly processing huge volumes of transaction data.

According to some reports, the supercomputers can reach speeds of over 1,000 transactions per second, and operates on a private network kept separate from the open Internet on security grounds.

Lawyer Alexei Kovalyov, representing one of the defendants, said the individuals had developed software to cover their tracks, and had been using the supercomputer to mine crypto for a period prior to detection.

I can say one thing for sure: they were not detained on the first day they began to mine.

The Stalin-era facility is considered to be of significant importance to national security, with access to the site strictly limited. Day-to-day, the facility is locked and under guard around the clock to prevent unauthorized access.

The misuse of the supercomputer saw those involved immediately handed over to the Russian Federal Security Service, with today’s fine the conclusion to Baykov’s involvement.

At the time of their arrest, the incident was widely reported internationally, due to the historical significance of the site as the birthplace of the first Soviet atomic bomb.

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