Supercomputers misused; £4.7k of bitcoins mined

To make bitcoin mining worth the time and energy needed, you’re going to need a powerful computer. So, when an opportunity to use a supercomputer worth 200x more than a standard PC presents itself, then you’re going to take it – at least, that’s what one researcher has recently done.

A researcher from a US national agency has been suspended for misusing supercomputers to mine bitcoins at two universities.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) revealed that £4,760 worth of bitcoins had been generated from NSF-funded computers. The researcher claims that he was conducting tests on the equipment, which is worth £89,230.

Neither universities involved have been identified but have said that this was an unauthorised use of their IT systems.

“Both university reports noted that the researcher accessed the computer systems remotely and may have taken steps to conceal his activities,” the NSF reports, “including accessing one supercomputer through a mirror site in Europe.”

While bitcoin mining is 100% legal, the activities have wasted plenty of computing power that could have been used for more important research. The lesson to be learnt is to keep a close eye on what your users are doing on their machines.