2 min read

Mining cryptocurrency at work lands Australian civil servant in court

Graham CLULEY

May 21, 2019

Ad One product to protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 90-day trial
Mining cryptocurrency at work lands Australian civil servant in court

A 33-year-old man from Sydney, New South Wales, could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail after allegedly hijacking computers at his workplace to mine cryptocurrency for him.

He’s probably not the first person in the world to be tempted into trying that particular ruse, but what raises eyebrows on this occasion is that the man was an employee of the Australian government.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) report that the IT worker took advantage of his position to take advantage of the unnamed federal government agency’s computer network to mine for cryptocurrency.

The man, from the Killara suburb of Sydney, is alleged to have made more than AU $9,000 (approximately US $6200) from the scheme before police searched his home in March, seizing a personal laptop, phone, employee ID cards, and data files.

Quite what alerted the authorities in the first place to the alleged crime is not clear, but it’s not beyond one’s imagination to consider that colleagues in the government department’s IT department might have spotted unauthorised code running on their network, or a much larger electricity bill than normal.

Clearly there are plenty of people who find it hard to resist abusing work computers to mine for cryptocurrency – either because they do not have enough computer power at home or don’t fancy paying the bill for what might be a fairly significant amount of electricity.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that workers have found themselves in hot water for stealing resources to mine for cryptocurrency.

For instance, last year Russian scientists working at a top-secret nuclear warhead facility were alleged to have used the power of one of the country’s most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoins.

More recently, a Chinese man was sentenced to three and a half years in jail after stealing electricity from a train station to power around-the-clock a Bitcoin mining rig comprising 50 computers and three electric fans.

In another case, a Taiwanese man was arrested after being suspected of stealing over US $3 million worth of electricity to power his Bitcoin and Ethereum mining rig. According to reports, the suspect opened 17 business premises posing as toy shops and internet cafes to hide the alleged cryptomining operations, and it was only when the power company noticed irregularities in the electricity supply that police investigated.

Using computers without authorisation to mine for cryptocurrency isn’t just a problem of not asking your boss’s permission, or stealing electricity. It’s also a security risk.

Installing cryptomining software onto a computer whose primary purpose is to perform another task opens the system up to potential problems. Even before you consider the possibility that malware or vulnerabilities may be introduced onto a computer, there is also the risk of incompatibilities and bugs that may cause systems to stop operating properly.

“Australian taxpayers put their trust in public officials to perform vital roles for our community with the utmost integrity,” said the AFP’s Chris Holdsmid. “Any alleged criminal conduct which betrays this trust for personal gain will be investigated and prosecuted.”

The unnamed man was scheduled to appear in Sydney Local Court today, in response to charges of unauthorised modification of data to cause impairment, and unauthorised modification of restricted data. The charges carry maximum penalties of ten and two years imprisonment, respectively.

tags


Author



Right now

Top posts

Threat actors impersonate Canadian gas retailer to deliver malicious OneNote phishing campaign, Bitdefender Labs warns

Threat actors impersonate Canadian gas retailer to deliver malicious OneNote phishing campaign, Bitdefender Labs warns

January 26, 2023

2 min read
Spammers phish eager vacationers with travel-themed lures, Bitdefender Antispam Lab warns

Spammers phish eager vacationers with travel-themed lures, Bitdefender Antispam Lab warns

January 19, 2023

4 min read
Enhance your cyber resilience and privacy on Computer Security Day in four easy steps

Enhance your cyber resilience and privacy on Computer Security Day in four easy steps

November 29, 2022

2 min read
How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

November 22, 2022

3 min read
Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

November 16, 2022

6 min read
Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

November 14, 2022

5 min read

FOLLOW US ON

SOCIAL MEDIA


You might also like

More than 50,000 People Affected by US Cellular Data Breach; Leaked Info Hits the Internet More than 50,000 People Affected by US Cellular Data Breach; Leaked Info Hits the Internet
Silviu STAHIE

February 08, 2023

2 min read
Russian Threat Actor Targets Ukraine Ministry and Polish Police in Similar Campaigns Russian Threat Actor Targets Ukraine Ministry and Polish Police in Similar Campaigns
Silviu STAHIE

February 06, 2023

1 min read
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hits ‘Banner Health’ with $1.25 Million Fine U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hits ‘Banner Health’ with $1.25 Million Fine
Silviu STAHIE

February 03, 2023

1 min read