The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are investigating two employees at the Bureau of Meteorology for allegedly using the bureau’s computers to mine cryptocurrencies, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports today, March 8.
The AFP appeared at the Bureau of Meteorology last week, Feb. 28, with a search warrant and questioned two IT employees, one of whom has since gone on leave. ABC reports that no charges have yet been filed, and both the AFP and the Bureau of Meteorology have declined to comment pending the ongoing investigation.
Chris Berg from the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub told ABC that the suspected employees could either have been using the bureau’s computational power to mine for crypto, or using its electricity to avoid paying their own electrical bills:
“One possibility is that they’re trying to use some of the equipment that the Bureau of Meteorology have [sic]. 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.”
Last month, in a similar such plot, several Russian nuclear engineers were arrested after attempting to use one of Russia’s largest supercomputers for crypto mining.