Crimean Government Employees Fired for Mining Bitcoin Using State-Owned Computers

According to a report from Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, two Crimean government employees were recently fired for using state-owned computers to mine bitcoin. The employees were the head of the IT department under Crimea’s Council of Ministers, and the head of that same department’s technical support and hardware division.

Reportedly, the Crimean government employees installed “malicious software” on the government’s server, and used over a dozen computers to mine bitcoin. At a press conference in Sevastopol, chairman of the Anti-Corruption committee of the Republic of Crimea, Alexander Akshatin, announced that the two employees that got caught mining the cryptocurrency had now been fired.

Akshatin further revealed that his committee and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) managed to catch the two employees before they managed to cash out their earnings, which according to the chairman were “less than one bitcoin.” He added that the employees used state-owned computers to mine bitcoin earlier this year, stating it was: “in February-March 2017, a bitcoin was $1800, now it costs $4000. Even half a bitcoin is some money.”

Notably, Akshatin claimed that if it was known government employees were mining crypto using state-owned equipment, others would do the same and, as such, he had to dismiss the two who mined in order to deter anyone from attempting to do so in the future. He stated:

“They thought that there was nothing wrong with that. But if we were not on the alert and some limited information went through this channel, you understand the extent to which this could all turn out. Fortunately, this did not happen.”  

Other crypto mining schemes

The cryptocurrency ecosystem’s value surged this year and, as such, cryptocurrency mining schemes are on the rise, as bad actors are trying to make a few bucks off of other people’s systems.

Earlier this year, a computer systems manager at New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) was fired for mining bitcoin with the DOE’s computers, according to a disposition. As recently covered by Core Media, a group of hackers made $63,000 mining Monero using unpatched Windows servers, and this year over 1.65 million computers have been infected with cryptocurrency miners.

CBS-owned showtime websites – Showtime.com and Showtimeanytime.com – were recently targeted with a so-called “malvertising” attack, in which someone implemented Monero mining code in them, so that it would use visitors’ CPUs to mine Monero using Coinhive.