Cryptocurrency Mining Machine Discovered Inside Nuclear Power Plant: Employee Puts State Secrets at Risk

On 22nd August 2019, MSN reported that a high-level clearance employee in a nuclear power plant was charged with installing an illegal power-mining machine. The employee connected it to the power grid of the nuclear power plant facility in Yuzhnoukrainsk, Ukraine.

The crypto mining machine was installed in the administrative building in the plant, tapping electricity from a local grid. According to the court case filed against the employee, the accused put state secrets at high risk from outside hackers. The nuclear plant is the second biggest facility in the country.

Power-Mining Machine Discovered by Chance

The power-mining machine was only discovered by chance by SGU security officers during the plant’s security checks exercise. After the investigation, authorities found that the power mining was a small-scale enterprise and did not hijack any of the plant’s equipment. They connected their computer network customized for mining to the local grid under the disguise of the administrative section of the plant. 

The nature of the power plant doesn’t allow for computer equipment inside or near the facility for security protocols. Authorities are yet to clarify what kind of coins the machines mined. According to a report by a local newspaper, investigators from Ukraine’s National Guard are also looking into officials tasked with defending the plant’s security. They suspect some officials might be involved, considering the high level of protection that was needed to access that part of the building.

 This case is not the first time for opportunistic crypto miners to invade government facilities. In 2018, a man in China was arrested for tapping electricity from a  railway substation. He managed to save up to $15000 in electricity costs by getting into the railway’s power system. The man was using the stolen electric power to run around 50 bitcoin machines and fans.

What Is Cryptocurrency Mining?

It refers to a process where transactions for various forms of digital currencies are verified and added to a Blockchain’s digital ledger. It is also known as crypto coin mining or as Bitcoin mining.

Every time a crypto transaction is made, a miner is responsible for making sure the information upload and update into the blockchain is authentic. Miners compete with one another to solve complex math problems about cryptographic algorithms associated with transaction data inside a blockchain. The first miner to crack such a code is rewarded by authorizing the transaction and earning a small amount of cryptocurrency.

To stay ahead of the game, miners need to use specialized computers with software and hardware component. Power mining machines require a lot of power to process, and cheap electricity goes a long way to save on cost and increase profits. 

Authorities have started to recognize the challenges facing the crypto mining industry as more users embrace cryptocurrencies.

 


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