Have you ever wondered how much money you could make mining cryptocurrency with a supercomputer? Multiple people in Russia who had access to one of the country’s most powerful computers allowed their curiosity to get the best of them, and they wound up in jail for it.
Russian news agency, Interfax, reported that multiple employees of the Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, which is part of the Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, Russia, have been “detained for mining cryptocurrency in the workplace.”
Interfax spoke with Tatyanna Zalesskaya, a press representative for the Federal Nuclear Center, who confirmed that multiple employees were apprehended. "Indeed, there was an attempt to unauthorized use of office computing capacities for personal purposes, including for so-called mining," Zalesskaya, told Interfax.
Zalesskaya didn’t share many details about the incident with the Russian news agency, but she also noted that the recent incident wasn’t the first time that employees had been caught using company equipment to mine cryptocurrency. BBC News reported that the culprits were mining "Bitcoin." However, the term "Bitcoin" has become somewhat of a proprietary eponym (like saying "Kleenex" when you mean "tissues") that represents all cryptocurrencies.
Curiously, the hashrate of the Bitcoin mining network dropped from a peak of 24,293,141 TH/s on February 6, to less than 20,000,000 TH/s on February 7. However, the drop in hashing power could be due to the recent drop in Bitcoin's value.
Interfax noted that the computer in question is capable of 1 petaflop of computational power. However, it would be difficult to determine how well that power would translate to mining potential. It’s also unclear how long the supercomputer was used for mining before the company caught on and shut it down.
We would need more information to make an informed estimate of how much these crooked scientists made off with, but it’s still fun to imagine how many coins they mined.