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22 Aug, 2019 06:55

Ukrainian nuclear power plant used to mine cryptocurrency, putting state secrets at risk

Ukrainian nuclear power plant used to mine cryptocurrency, putting state secrets at risk

A person with access to restricted parts of a nuclear power plant in Ukraine used it to mine cryptocurrency, potentially exposing the facility’s top secret security plans, according to a court case.

It’s well known that cryptocurrency mining is a ‘power-hungry’ endeavor that consumes more electricity globally than some nations do. So working near a nuclear reactor seems only logical. Ukraine’s SBU security service apparently busted an illegal mining operation while checking the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, the second-largest in the country. It is located near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk, some 350 kilometers south of Kiev.

Luckily, the criminal enterprise seems to have been relatively small-scale and didn’t involve hijacking the plant’s equipment, which would have compromised its safety. Instead, they deployed several computers tailored for the kind of computation needed for mining at one of the plant’s administrative buildings, siphoning electricity from the local grid, court papers cited by local media said.

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The computer network created by the crypto crooks was connected to the plant’s intranet. The SBU says it may have compromised the site’s security arrangements, which are considered a state secret.

The papers don’t identify the perpetrators, but say investigators also searched the premises used by a National Guard unit tasked with guarding the power plant and confiscated more computer equipment there. So the people who were supposed to be defending the highly dangerous piece of Ukrainian infrastructure could well have been behind the scheme.

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