If you've been following the saga of crypto-currencies, and the trend in stories recently that allege their use by some unsavory groups as a source of funding, or their ability to be hacked, or the allegations of manipulation and mining by casinos, banks, and so on, then you'll want to read this one. In fact, I received an email from a few people speculating about people with access to super computers using them "on-0the-sly" to mine Bitcoin and so on, and one or two people connected this speculation to intelligence agencies and, yes, the ever-useful CERN to such speculations.

Well, Mr. P.K. spotted this article at RT and passed it along, and it seems to corroborate the basic thrust of these speculations: people with access to super-computers - nuclear engineers for example - are using that access to mine crypto-currencies:

Engineers of ‘max security’ nuke center busted trying to mine cryptocurrency on supercomputer

In this case, the nuclear engineers in question were Russians working at the nuclear center in Sarov, and were apprehended and arrested after investigation by the Russian FSB(Federalnaya Sluzhba Byezhopaznosti, the re-named successor to the oft-renamed entity that has been by turns the CHEKA, the NKVD, the MGB, the KGB... you get the idea):

A powerful supercomputer located at a Russian nuclear research facility in Sarov was reportedly targeted by a pair of engineers who wanted to use it to mine cryptocurrencies.

“There has been an attempt of unsanctioned use of workplace computing capacities for personal gain, including for so-called mining,” the press service of the Sarov nuclear weapons facility told Interfax on Friday. The statement said the employees involved have been arrested and are facing criminal charges.

The remarks, which didn’t provide further details about the case, came in response to reports on social media on Thursday saying the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had busted two nuclear engineers. The men had apparently attempted to set up an internet connection on the top secret supercomputer in Sarov to use it for mining cryptocurrencies.

The Sarov facility, which is usually called Federal Nuclear Center, is Russia’s counterpart to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It’s a historic developer of nuclear weapons that is still very much involved in keeping Russia’s arsenal ready and up-to-date.

The short article concludes on a somewhat grimmer note, which suggests the possibility that the two scientists in question may have been part of a larger network:

Hijacking computing devices and using them into cryptocurrency mining operations at the owner’s expense is an increasingly-profitable criminal business. All sorts of devices, including house appliance microprocessors, can be hacked to do that. Another popular option is to insert malicious code into a web page and have the browsing users’ computers run it. However, all such schemes require an internet connection to link with other nodes of a cryptocurrency infrastructure.

In other words, one's own computer could be hacked and it could be used to mine crypto-currencies for someone else, running in the background. (Computer running slower than normal for no good reason? Hmmm....) Coming as it does in an article about the unauthorized mining of crypto-currencies by nuclear scientists working at what the article itself calls "Russia's counterpart to the Los Alamos National Laboratory" and "a historic developer of nuclear weapons that is still very much involved in keeping Russia's arsenal ready and up-to-date," these admissions (as one might imagine) drove my suspicion meter into the red zone, and my high octane speculation turbines into overdrive.

What the article suggests, in my high octane speculation of the day, is that one could, with enough thought, organization, and "seed money," organize a network to mine crypto-currencies for the express purpose of funding "secret research" for "non-territorial actors". Is your covert nuclear weapons project short of funds? Need a little extra cash for the next excursion into Kurdistan? If that sounds fanciful, think again, for I have already blogged on this website about a story that appeared that various neo-Fascist and neo-Nazi groups were mining crypto-currencies for precisely the purpose of funding their "operations". With a distributed ledger and encrypted access, its also the perfect way to transfer funds from point A to point B, and hence one can expect that such use would not confine itself to "non-territorial actors" but also be a "tool of tradecraft" for intelligence agencies. To put the idea country simple: it's the mediaeval crusading orders' modus operandi, 2.0.

Bearing these wild speculations in mind, the article seems to suggest the possibility that the "Sarov Crypto-Currency Incident" as we'll call it, might be not so much about two rogue scientists trying to make a fast ruble or two, as about the possibility that a wider network was involved, or at least, being set up, and that this constituted a national security issue to the Russian Federation.

But anyway one slices it, I suspect these are more reasons to regard the phenomenon with due caution and suspicion

See you on the flip side...




  1. Intel inside they’re probably the biggest miner then Wynn Macau. Fiat , cryptos, gold, silver, bonds , stocks all corrupted manipulated. But open source crypto not going away and BTC$11,150.00

    1. My last lunch at the Greeks Islands in Chicago was for lunch with and old friend and business associate. He works for a fund that not only mines crypto currencies in farms in southern US and Canada where electricity is cheapest . The also trade crypto futures. Have a large multi million $ fund with subscribers like SoftBank. Millions of dollars fiat, yen , euros. Another old friend and retried partner’s son mines in coops in Texas and in retired Dads living room and generates $100+++ a day mining rigs using pops computer. House is 15 k solar in desert. So yeah. It is scalable for big guys and little gals. Get some LTC or Etherium, and a little BTC . You won’t go to zero . One trade at a time. Don’t forget you can use BTC for train tickets in Der Switz! And on and on the innovations and wealth creation are there and will not be lost , only improved , through innovation ,and adoption. There are billions of users in PAC Rim alone uses smart phones making purchases in cryptos.

  2. Considering the vast number of zombie personal computers out there infected by all and sundry viruses, it’s inevitable that they’re going to craft viruses to harness PCs for bitcoin mining.

    However, what is really hair-raising here is the absolute insanity of these corrupt scientists, who attempted to take a supercomputer network holding Russia’s advanced nuclear technology online. Talk about nuclear proliferation! The possibility of a hack in such a scenario is truly a nightmare scenario.

    1. There is a supposed inventor of the blockchain/bitcoin protocol; but was it someone else, or even an AI itself? Whomever/Whatever it was then “acquired” like inslaw?
      Has a backdoor. Probably computers/hardware is probably engineered/manufactured w/backdoors.
      You’d think these guys in Russia would know too many risks involved. So we’re they a honey pot? Are they setting somebody up?
      Lots of parameters in this money game. For certain, “they” want control and aren’t going to allow something to disrupt their number monopoly: money issuance/control[cyberspace/outer space/ or any form it takes. Even gold is suspect[alchemy].

  3. There have been all sorts of ‘useful projects’ organized to take advantage of home computer idle-processor time – from searching SETI signals for signs of intelligence to decoding the shapes of proteins. While good, this has also laid-out the foundation-coding for ‘mesh-networks’ that do not ask the owner’s permission to install and run. One obvious ‘application’ is to mine crypto-currencies…

    (On a personal level, my computer has its hard drive periodically burst into activity – with me doing nothing – and then settle into silence minutes later. If I shut-down the browser, that ‘activity’ stops immediately. It could be many things – including pre-caching or ordinary malware – but given the above, “Hmmm…”)

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