Cryptomining arrest only the start of problems for these nuke plant workers

With the popularity of cryptocurrency mining, everyone is trying to get in on the action. This naturally leads to numerous illegal actions on the part of cybercriminals who attempt to get every advantage in getting a payday. In an extreme act of foolishness, this fact can now be applied to a set of (soon to be unemployed) workers of a nuclear power plant.

According to local media in Ukraine, workers at a nuclear power plant in the Nikolaev region were arrested by SBU (Ukrainian secret service) for using a plant supercomputer in their cryptomining scheme. According to what investigators have told the Ukrainian media publication InternetUA, the charges are incredibly severe as “information about the physical protection of a nuclear power plant was disclosed, which is a state secret.” The problems for the arrested are compounded when you also add the fact that members of the National Guard of Ukraine guarding the plant were apparently in on the scheme.

The search conducted by investigators into the cryptomining uncovered unauthorized computer components being used in an office in the administrative building. As reported by media, the items seized by the SBU were “six Radeon RX 470 video cards, two risers [extension cords that are used to connect additional video cards to the motherboard], four power supplies, three system units (one of them is homemade), a switch with a block power supply, a switch without a power supply, a metal bracket with three video cards, seven raisers and five cables to the raisers, a motherboard, a USB flash drive, and a hard drive.”

The irony in all of this is that the initial crime of illegally utilizing the plant’s supercomputer for cryptocurrency mining is the least of the defendants’ worries. By exposing classified data, there is no telling just how severely the Ukrainian government will punish them. Add to the fact that some of the culprits were in the military, and the consequences are guaranteed to be severe.

Featured image: Flickr / Tennessee Valley Authority

Derek Kortepeter

Derek Kortepeter is a graduate of UCLA and tech journalist that is committed to creating an informed society with regards to Information Security. Kortepeter specializes in areas such as penetration testing, cryptography, cyber warfare, and governmental InfoSec policy.

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