Australian IT Worker Charged for Crypto Mining at Government Agency

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Another case of an opportunist tapping into government computer systems in order to mine cryptocurrency has been revealed; this time in Australia.

An Australian IT worker is facing charges after allegedly abusing his position as a contractor and illegally using government agency computer systems, according to Sydney police.

Although the activity of illegally using government equipment for mining is quite rare there have been other publicized cases over the past year. In 2018, Russian security officers arrested scientists at a top-secret warhead facility in Sarov, 240 miles east of Moscow. Several scientists had tried to use one of Russia’s most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoin.

In another case two school principals in Hunan province, China, got themselves into hot water for mining Ethereum at a Middle School in Chenzhou, running 6 machines around the clock in a school classroom.

The 33-year-old worker has been charged by the Australian federal police under sections 477.2 and 478.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 with “Unauthorised modification of data to cause impairment” and “Unauthorised modification of restricted data”.

With regards to this latest case in Australia acting Commander Chris Goldsmid, Manager Cybercrime Operations, stated that exploitation of this kind was a betrayal of public trust:

“Australian taxpayers put their trust in public officials to perform vital roles for our community with the utmost integrity. Any alleged criminal conduct which betrays this trust for personal gain will be investigated and prosecuted.”

It appears that the AUD 6.1 million (USD 4.2 million) lost to cryptocurrency scams last year was just the tip of the scamming iceberg according to a recent survey by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Scams covering all sectors totaled 378,000 reported in 2018, costing victims a huge AUD 489 million (approx. USD 344 million).


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