We’ve all been guilty of using office resources for personal gains to one degree or another, whether it has been to copy something, print something, send a personal email, and the like. But, using expensive resources for self-enrichment is probably something left to a small minority of people around the world, as these actions are far less acceptable.
I’m sure that we would all expect to pay some sort of price if caught exploiting our employers. How much more dire would the penalties be if we worked for the government and used tools in a top-secret operation to self-enrich ourselves at the cost of the state? Read on to hear the tale of three brave souls who would do just that.
FINES ALL ROUND
A group of nuclear scientists have been bust for using a supercomputer at a Russian nuclear facility 400 kilometres outside of Moscow, in a restricted area/town, called Sarov. Denis Baykov, the first of the convicted group face paying a fine to the tune of nearly $7,000, while two of his compatriots, Andrei Rybkin and Andre Shatokhin are still awaiting their fate in this fiasco.
The crime may be laughable at the start, but the severity of the matter is extensive, as a government-owned computer holding top-secret information on its servers was used to do the deed. While it was uncertain how much Bitcoin was mined before the operation was halted, it can be assumed that it might be quite a decent haul, given the capacity to compute in their control.
BITCOIN MINING 101
Bitcoin is mined through solving very complicated mathematical equations found in the quantum space of the internet. When these algorithms are deciphered, hashes are created and added to the Blockchain registry as viable coinage, which can be sold to investors and the like.
Mining is a very competitive market, with people spending a massive amount of money on rigs (ASICs) and electricity so that they can find this digital gold. What makes the process so difficult, is that only one miner at a time can add blocks to the blockchain. The first one to crack the code wins. Once this block is added, all mining rigs must now abandon the chase of the current hash, in search for the next one. It’s a race to the finish again.
It is therefore understandable that higher-powered rigs stand more chance of finding the right hash first. Because of the cost involved, miners often join a mining network, called a mining pool, to co-operate together in mining the next block. Miners are then rewarded in accordance with the amount of work their rig puts in.
But, when you have access to one of the most powerful computers in the world, you do not need to share your resources in order to be successful, you can do it on your own and make loads more money that way.
The computer employed in Russia by the scientists makes most mining networks look short-changed. It has the capability of performing 1,000 trillion operations per second. This might not be impressive until you understand that a standard GPU in an ASIC rig only computes at 25 million per second. The supercomputer is millions of times faster, giving a miner the upper hand in the chase for the correct hash to complete the block.
Operating a rig as powerful as a supercomputer would equate to a sheer fortune, not to mention the electricity bill charged on running all of that power. Well, Baykov and his party did not pay a red cent towards any of the costs. Rather the state foot the bill, as the computer was being used for nuclear testing and other top-secret work anyway.
It’s probably a good thing for the mining industry that the operation was bust, as it now gives a fair chance to the competition to mine with fairness again.
It could have ended off far worse for the scientists though, as it did earlier this year when Ukrainian officials at a nuclear power plant did the same with their supercomputer. This time, however, secret data about the plant had been leaked onto the net as a result of the way the computer was being used.
The temptation to make a quick buck or two on Bitcoin’s back must have been really enticing. There is a lot of value tied into Bitcoin and should the operation have continued, the Russian scientists would have ended up quite wealthy, we are sure.
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