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Australian Weather Men in Hot Water For Utilizing Powerful Computers to Mine Crypto

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Thu, 8/03/2018 - 8:56
Australian Weather Men in Hot Water For Utilizing Powerful Computers to Mine Crypto
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The Australian Federal Police have come down on two Bureau of Meteorology employees who are being investigated for allegedly running an elaborate mining operation involving the use of the bureau's powerful computers.

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While mining cryptocurrency is not illegal in Australia, the issue is the use of the Bureau’s powerful computers to mine without any permission as this is an illegal use of governmental resources.

Questioning

Federal police officers executed a search warrant at the bureau's Collins Street headquarters in Melbourne. They spoke with two IT employees while the rest of the IT division were asked to wait in the conference room, it was reported.

No charges have been laid and the investigation is still ongoing.

Use of resources

The benefit of using the bureau's computers are easy to see as not only is the electricity cost negated for the would-be miners but because of the nature of weather prediction, a number of powerful processing computers that could be put to work for complex mining algorithms.

"One possibility is that they're trying to use some of the equipment that the Bureau of Meteorology has. The Bureau of Meteorology has some very fast computers. Another possibility, though, is that they're just trying to get the Bureau of Meteorology to pay for the electricity. Mining is a very electricity-intensive task and they probably didn't want to pay for it themselves," said Chris Berg from RMIT's Blockchain Innovation Hub.

This is not the first time that employees have looked to cash in on powerful computers that do not belong to them as a story emerged earlier this year that scientists at a Russian nuclear warhead research center were arrested for allegedly using the facility's supercomputer to mine cryptocurrencies.

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