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Weather Bureau officials in Australia alleged in cryptocurrency mining

Mar 09, 2018 Posted /  3586 Views

Weather Bureau officials in Australia alleged in cryptocurrency mining

The ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has reported that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is investigating two employees of the Bureau of Meteorology for allegedly using bureau's powerful computers to "mine" cryptocurrencies.

The report says that AFP found that the employees were running an elaborate operation on the premises. The police officials who came with the search warrant examined the Bureau's Collins Streets headquarters in Melbourne on February 28. The people who know about the raid have reported that the officers took the two IT employees aside and talked to them about the issue.


Reportedly, as the two men were investigated, the rest of the IT team was taken to the conference room and was asked to wait.

It is being told that one of the employees who was inquired by the AFP has since gone on leave since then. Nonetheless, AFP has not laid down any charges on any of the people, but the investigation is continuing.

Notably, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are mined through the power of computers who solve complicated mathematical algorithms, thus creating digital coins. Bitcoins are only 21 million in existence, and as more coins have been mined the equations are getting more difficult to solve, necessitating miners to harness more computational power.

Last month, a group of scientists at a Russian nuclear warhead research center were busted by the police and were arrested for purportedly using the facility’s supercomputer to mine cryptocurrencies. The possibility to secure significant profits in cryptocurrencies has sparked a flurry of speculative interest.

It is noteworthy that mining cryptocurrency is not illegal in Australia, but alleged use of the government office's computers to carry out the process could be an illicit use of resources. By far, when the bureau spokesperson was contacted, he declined to answer citing that the investigation is going on for the same and they will respond once the claims are sorted. AFP also reacted identically.

RMIT’s Blockchain Innovation Hub expert  Chris Berg has asserted that if the employees were mining cryptocurrency, they might have been doing so, either to avoid the hefty electricity bills or taking advantage of the bureau’s mighty computational power.

“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,” Dr. Berg said.

A month ago the Bureau of Meteorology was in media's limelight when it confessed for entertaining fake advertisements directing people to a Bitcoin scam. However,  the fraud is not deemed to be related to the ongoing investigation.

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