Employees abused systems at Ukrainian nuclear power plant to mine cryptocurrency

Pierluigi Paganini August 23, 2019

The Ukrainian Secret Service is investigating the case of employees at a nuclear power plant that connected its system online to mine cryptocurrency.

The Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU) launched an investigation after employees at a local nuclear power plant connected some systems of the internal network to the Internet to mine cryptocurrency.

The incident was first reported by the Ukrainian news site UNIAN.

Nuclear power plants are critical infrastructure, such kind of incident could potentially expose high-sensitive information.

The security incident has happened in July at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant at Yuzhnoukrainsk, in the south of the country.

On July 10, agents of the SBU raided the nuclear power plant and discovered the equipment used by the employees to mining cryptocurrency.

The equipment was discovered present in the power plant’s administration offices.

The Ukrainian authorities are currently investigating if any attackers may have had access to exposed systems to information that could threaten national security.

The SBU seized equipment composed of two metal cases containing that included coolers and video cards (Radeon RX 470 GPU), computer components commonly used in mining factories.

“Further, the SBU also found and seized additional equipment[12] that looked like mining rigs in the building used as barracks by a military unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, tasked with guarding the power plant.” reported ZDnet.

The authorities have charged several employees, but at the time, none was arrested.

In February 2018, a similar incident took place in Russia. Russian authorities arrested some employees at the Russian Federation Nuclear Center facility because they were suspected of trying to use a supercomputer at the plant to mine Bitcoin.

In April 2018, an employee at the Romanian National Research Institute for Nuclear Physics and Engineering an employee abused institute’s electrical network to mine cryptocurrency.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – nuclear power plant, hacking)

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