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This Russian County's Website Was Hacked to Mine Cryptocurrency

A county government website for Khabarovsk, Russia was recently hacked in order to mine cryptocurrency using the processing power of those visiting.

County administration IT officer Vyacheslav Kovalenko reported that since the end of May, users who opened any page of the website were redirected to a malicious website that secretly launched mining software on their computers.

The malware had been active for 10 days before being removed Thursday, local news agency Gubernia.com reported. In addition to securing the vulnerability in their website, officials published a report recommending that users block pop-up windows in order to avoid similar risks in the future.

The website posts information about the county administration’s work and official events and has a visitorship of about 600 visitors per day.

While the incident represents one of the more notable – and local – occurrences of what has become known as “cryptojacking,” the act of clandestine mining has been in the news numerous times in recent months.

In February, several employees at the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Experimental Physics (the main nuclear research body in Russia) were arrested at their workplace for mining on the institute’s supercomputer. Similarly, last September, two IT managers with the Crimea government were fired for installing mining hardware in the government building.

In yet another incident last December, employees for Transneft – one of the largest oil transporting companies in Russia – were caught mining at their workplace, and the operator in Vnukovo airport (Moscow) was arrested for installing a mining farm at the airport venue.

Miner image via Shutterstock

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Crimean Government Employees Fined for Mining Bitcoins at Work

Two former employees of Crimea’s Council of Ministers have been fined 30,000 rubles ($525) each for mining bitcoins on the Council’s computer network, Russian media outlets reported Monday.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the unidentified workers were fired in late September 2017. Mining is an energy-intensive process through which new transactions are added to the blockchain, simultaneously rewarding miners with new coins for their efforts.

The mining allegedly took place from September 2016 through January 2017, and resulted in 15,000 rubles in profit – about $260 – according to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI).

The Agency also indicated that the employees’ mining activities consumed more than 57,000 rubles’ ($1,000) worth of electricity. The workers were subsequently charged with abuse of power, and they have reportedly paid their fines in full.

The incident in Crimea is one of many cases across the globe in which employees have been found to be mining cryptocurrency at work – and subsequently penalized.

In February, for example, nuclear scientists at a Russian weapons research facility were charged for using computers to mine cryptocurrencies.

Three such incidents have been reported in March alone. Staffers at Louisiana’s attorney general’s office are under investigation for appropriating official resources for crypto mining. Likewise, a state employee at Florida’s Department of Citrus was arrested for using Department computers to mine bitcoin and litecoin.

Officials at Australia’s official weather reporting agency, the Bureau of Meteorology, were also reportedly placed under investigation for mining at the beginning of the month.

Bitcoin mining image via Shutterstock 

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.