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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Warsaw. Cryptocurrency mine discovered in the building of the Supreme Administrative Court

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Devices with high computing power used in cryptocurrency trading were discovered at the headquarters of the Supreme Administrative Court in Warsaw. Computers that consumed a lot of electricity were hidden in the ventilation duct and in the technical floor. The investigation is being conducted by the prosecutor’s office, and the Internal Security Agency has also been notified about the incident.

Computers called “excavators” installed in an inaccessible place were noticed at the turn of August and September. Several devices were located in the ventilation duct on the top floor of the building, and components were also discovered in the technical floor in another part of the court – near the power supply devices.

As we have established, unusual computers, characterized by high electricity consumption and computing power, were noticed by the court’s technical employee. Our information also shows that a few weeks after the incident, the court authorities terminated the contract with the company responsible for the technical service of the building.

The Internal Security Agency was notified

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The discovery of cryptocurrency miners in the court building is confirmed in a letter sent to our editorial office by Judge Sylwester Marciniak, chairman of the Judicial Information Department of the Supreme Administrative Court.

– Police officers were notified by the Supreme Administrative Court about the installation of devices among the court’s technical infrastructure, and they took appropriate actions in the case, including dismantling and securing the disclosed electronic equipment – ​​we read in Judge Marciniak’s response.

From unofficial findings, we know that the secured computers had modems to connect to the Internet, which may mean that the devices were not connected to the network available in the court building.

– This event did not result in any threat to the security of data stored in the Supreme Administrative Court – says judge Sylwester Marciniak. He adds that the Internal Security Agency was also notified about the incident.

An expert was appointed and the prosecutor’s office investigated

The investigation into the “cryptocurrency mine” at the NSA is supervised by the Warsaw Śródmieście-Północ District Prosecutor’s Office.

– The proceedings were initiated pursuant to Art. 278 pairs 5 of the Penal Code, i.e. regarding the theft of electricity. The proceedings are ongoing, which means that no charges have been brought against anyone, says prosecutor Szymon Banna, press spokesman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw.

– Currently, procedural activities are underway to determine the circumstances of the incident. The prosecutor’s office appointed experts in the field of IT, electricity and power consumption to determine the amount of electricity consumed and, as a result, its value, adds prosecutor Banna.

What are cryptocurrency miners? “Billions of calculations”

The phenomenon of “cryptocurrency mining” is closely related to virtual currency trading and occurs all over the world.

– The security of cryptocurrencies results from the recording of all payment transactions with them in the blockchain. Each block of transactions is linked to its predecessor, so if someone wanted to illegally change a block (for example by forging a transaction contained in it), they would have to change all the blocks following it, and for this they would need computing power that is currently unavailable in the world – explains prof. Wojciech Cellary from WSB Merito University in Poznań.

– The so-called a hash function that turns the block header into a long binary number called a “hash”. It has the property that if even one bit in the block header changes, the entire hash changes. There is a special field in the block header called a nuance that can be changed through a process called “mining”. The task of the “miners” who secure cryptocurrencies is to find such a nuance that the hash has certain properties – for example, 60 zero bits at the beginning. It sounds simple, but it is a very computationally difficult task that is solved by trial and error. The miner takes some nuance and calculates a hash from the block header. If there are not 60 zero bits at the beginning, it changes the nuance and calculates the hash again. And so on billions of times until he finds the right one – describes prof. Wojciech Cellary.

“Diggers’ Race” – one person wins the big prize

– There are thousands of miners who race with each other to find the right nuance for each block. Only one of them will win the race for a given block and receive a prize in cryptocurrency – several hundred thousand dollars. Once the winner is announced, all miners immediately start racing for the next block. In Bitcoin (the most popular cryptocurrency – ed.), blocks are mined every 10 minutes, so every 10 minutes someone receives several hundred thousand dollars for the work not only of their own work, but also of that of their computer – explains Prof. Cellars.

Since Bitcoin’s creators predetermined the number of digital coins, it is known that the last Bitcoin will be “mined” in 2140.

Hidden computers and electricity theft

– Those whose computers are able to convert the most hashes per second have the greatest chance of winning. The so-called “miners”, i.e. computers that are only used to count hashes. They are very fast at this, but they consume a lot of electricity, which of course costs a lot of money – says Prof. Wojciech Cellary.

– Dishonest miners try to steal this energy, e.g. from public institutions or enterprises, by planting excavators at them and installing them in less visited places or in places where they do not arouse suspicion, e.g. in server rooms. Another abuse involves using the computing power of computers in public institutions or enterprises during free time – at night or on weekends. This also consumes additional energy – explains Prof. Wojciech Cellary.

Author:Artur Węgrzynowicz, Klaudia Ziółkowska

Main photo source: Artur Węgrzynowicz/tvnwarszawa.pl



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