Workers at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant were arrested last month after allegedly using the plant’s equipment to mine cryptocurrency.
According to a Coin Rivet article for the Daily Express, court documents seen by Ukrainian media outlet InternetUA state the operation could have exposed top-secret intel about the security of the plant as a result of the unauthorised and unprotected connection to the internet.
Miners threatened the safety of the nuclear facility by using the internet connection to make a profit on cryptocurrency transactions.
Security personnel discovered unauthorised computer equipment in the facility and seized a media converter, graphics cards, and coolers used to mine crypto.
It was later alleged that the National Guard of Ukraine was involved in the crime and helped set up the mining lab, with a number of National Guard employees reportedly being detained.
The computer network of a nuclear power plant can perform 1,000 trillion calculations per second, and as such unauthorised mining on the network is considered a serious crime that risks the country’s safety and national security.
Cryptocurrency in Ukraine
Officially, the status of cryptocurrency in Ukraine is not defined, and the digital asset class is not regulated by the state.
Despite this, according to some statistics, one in ten Ukrainian citizens is a holder of cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency transactions occur secretly, without the participation of the state. The profit of individuals and legal entities from operations with cryptocurrencies was originally proposed to be taxed in Ukraine, but the bill was not approved for political reasons.
In 2014, about 30% of the world’s Bitcoin mining was accounted for by Ukraine, but due to the lack of legal regulation, many miners moved to other countries where cryptocurrency is officially legal.
The delay in legislation is due to the political situation in the country, as Ukraine is currently under the external control of large creditors and needs to wait for their approval on any issues.
The country is aiming to lower the barrier to entry for crypto projects and attract new investments in the near future.
The rise of crypto mining labs
Cryptocurrency mining labs began to appear at the peak of Bitcoin’s popularity. Crypto enthusiasts hoped to get rich quick by jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon and earning mining rewards.
As more people began to realise the potential profit that could be made from mining, more illegal labs began to open.
Illegal mining operations can range from large data centers run by groups who usually do not disclose their activities to individuals installing ‘cryptojacking’ malware on the computers of unsuspecting victims.
Mining labs are now becoming increasingly complex as a result of the constant complication of the mining process, which requires more technical, energy, and financial resources.
Cryptojacking is a rising cybersecurity threat whereby electronic devices such as laptops, desktops, servers, and smartphones are taken over and forced to mine cryptocurrency, often without the owner’s knowledge.
As much as one-quarter of all companies were infected with cryptojacking malware in 2018.
You can find out more about cryptojacking and how to protect yourself with Coin Rivet’s useful guide on the subject.