Ukrainian Nuke Plant Workers Tried to Mine Cryptocurrency
Ukrainian security service (SBU) agents have arrested several nuclear power plant employees in the country after they misguidedly tried to use their facility’s IT systems to mine for cryptocurrency.
Local media reports this week said the incident occurred on July 10 at the plant in Yuzhnoukrainsk in the south of the country.
The workers are said to have hooked up a supercomputer, which was kept air-gapped at the power plant, to the internet. In so doing, it’s claimed they unwittingly disclosed information on the physical security measures in place at the nuclear facility, which is a state secret.
The SBU officers seized unauthorized computer equipment which had been used to build a separate LAN designed to mine for cryptocurrency.
They reportedly took six Radeon RX 470 video cards, extension cords and cabling, various switches, a motherboard, a USB flash drive, a hard drive and even the metal frame on which was mounted the other items.
Equipment was also seized after separate searches were carried out at other parts of the facility, including premises used by a Ukrainian military unit stationed there.
This isn’t the first time such an incident has been discovered. In February 2018 it emerged that engineers at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center had been arrested for trying to mine Bitcoin with one of the country’s largest supercomputers.
“This is a great example of ‘trust but verify’,” argued Phil Neray, VP of industrial cybersecurity at CyberX. “Even with the strictest policies and regulations in the world, it’s all theoretical if you aren’t continuously monitoring for unusual or unauthorized activity.”
The news comes as new research from Kaspersky this week revealed human error was behind over half (52%) of cybersecurity incidents detected by the AV vendor in industrial environments last year.