An inspector general report on malpractices at the National Science Foundation showed that a reporter was busted using government supercomputers to earn bitcoins via a process called mining.
According to the IG report that was released in March, the scientist utilized two supercomputers stationed at two separate universities for bitcoin mining. But as Business Insider reports, the researcher extracted very minute amounts-between 12 and 16 bitcoins which are worth between $8,000 and $10,000.
The researcher employed the defense that he was carrying out tests on the hardware, the report said. However, the report adds that the universities where the computers were stationed had not authorized him to do the tests.
“Both university reports noted that the researcher accessed the computer systems remotely and may have taken steps to conceal his activities, including accessing one supercomputer through a mirror site in Europe,” the report claimed.
The report explained that bitcoin is independent of conventional currencies although it can be traded for national currencies via exchange platforms. It adds that the digital currency is generated via a technology that’s computer hardware-intensive.
But according to Forbes, several other persons have accessed computers that don’t belong to them to extract virtual currencies. A Harvard University researcher was found to have used the institution’s powerful computers to mine bitcoin’s alternative, Dogecoin, earlier this year. A student at London Imperial College was caught doing the same to extract Dogecoin. In 2013, a gaming company was slapped with a fine by New Jersey for covertly using its customers’ computing power to mine bitcoin.
Forbes says that the NSF researcher was a bit disappointing by managing to mine only a small amount of bitcoins despite using super-costly computer systems, that is, unless the machines are not that powerful.
The NSF has not indicated whether or not it plans to keep the supercomputers within the bitcoin network to keep mining.
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