Russian engineers arrested for mining Bitcoins at nuclear facility

07:34 PM | 10 Feb, 2018
Russian engineers arrested for mining Bitcoins at nuclear facility
MOSCOW - Russian security services have arrested several engineers at a top-secret nuclear facility for attempting to use one of the country's most powerful supercomputers to secretly mine Bitcoin.

Several employees at the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov city were detained after making “an attempt to use the work computing facilities for personal ends, including for so-called mining”, a spokeswoman for the centre, Tatiana Zalesskaya, told Interfax news agency on Saturday.

“Their activities were stopped in time,” she added, without detailing how many were detained.

The facility is overseen by Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency, and works on developing nuclear weapons.

Such attempts “at our enterprises will be harshly put down, this activity technically has no future and is punishable as a crime”, the Center’s spokeswoman said.

In 2011, the Federal Nuclear Center switched on a new supercomputer with a capacity of 1 petaflop (Floating Point Operations Per Second), which at the time made it the twelfth most powerful in the world, Russian media reported.

During the cold war, Sarov was a top-secret city in the Nizhny Novgorod region, about 500km (300 miles) east of Moscow. Its Soviet era name was Arzamas-16.

The facility was the birthplace of the Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapons. Sarov is still a closed city whose inhabitants are subject to travel restrictions.