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How To Use A National Nuclear Weapons Development Center to Mine Bitcoin

October 26, 2019
Ross Peili


How To Use A National Nuclear Weapons Development Center to Mine Bitcoin

Meanwhile In Russia: How To Use A National Nuclear Weapons Development Center to Mine Bitcoin.

MOSCOW – On Thursday 24 October, a Russian man was sentenced to three years and three months in prison, after being charged with “unauthorized use of computer capabilities” to illegally mine Bitcoin while on duty.  

Andrey Rybkin was working for the Russian Federation’s largest nuclear research center, located in Sarov, a city 370km far from Moscow. The national nuclear facility isn’t just another energy-efficient power plant, but literally a nuclear weapons developing center.  

Apparently, being a tech-staff in the center, Rybkin had access to a brand new supercomputer installed there a few years ago, which he used to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.  

Mining cryptocurrencies can be extremely expensive both hardware-wise and from an energy-consumption perspective, so the clever man thought that using his job’s computer to do so, wouldn’t be a huge problem.  

The thing is that he was not using a legal office’s laptop to print a pdf, but the nations’ largest nuclear weapon developing center’s supercomputer to mine Bitcoin. Fancy that. 

So Vat? Others also did it

According to RT, which was the first to report on the incident, in addition to his jail time, Rybkin was also fined with a sum of 200,000 rubles, equivalent to approximately $3,000 and it is said that he was actually not the first one to try this at the same nuclear center.  

In September this year, another employee of the nuclear facility was fined with 450,000 rubles (approx. $7000) for attempting the same thing, while a former employee who attempted the same in the past was charged with four years in prison and an additional fine.   

While it is still active today and contributes to the country’s nuclear hand, as well as offers shelter to the Nuclear Weapons Museum, the Sarov nuclear center is famous for developing Russia’s first nuclear/hydrogen bombs during the Cold War. 

Due to the nature of its various top-secret facilities, the city of Sarov is a ghost city foreigners and tourists are not allowed to visit. As for Russians, citizens who don’t permanently live in the city will also be required to have a good reason and an official permit to enter the city’s premises. 

 It is not the first time we see someone abuse a government-level computing system to mine cryptocurrencies. A Singaporean man, not as lucky as Andrey Rukin, faces 30+ years for illegally using Google Cloud services and Amazon’s AWS to mine cryptocurrencies pretending to be various US and Indian citizens of whose the ID he had stolen and used to subscribe to the mentioned computing networks.