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NSF Researcher Suspended For Mining Bitcoin

Unknown Lamer posted about 1 month ago | from the probably-shouldn't-do-that dept.

Bitcoin 220

PvtVoid (1252388) writes "In the semiannual report to Congress by the NSF Office of Inspector General, the organization said it received reports of a researcher who was using NSF-funded supercomputers at two universities to mine Bitcoin. The computationally intensive mining took up about $150,000 worth of NSF-supported computer use at the two universities to generate bitcoins worth about $8,000 to $10,000, according to the report. It did not name the researcher or the universities."

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220 comments

Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (5, Insightful)

Shadowmist (57488) | about 1 month ago | (#47199811)

This is pretty much at the lowest of the low category, Someone who takes up taxpayer funded computer time to mine Bitcoin, should essentially be barred for life form the facility... and that's for starters.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1, Insightful)

Xicor (2738029) | about 1 month ago | (#47199845)

well, most likely the computers werent being used for anything else at the time. he was probably only running it in spare time.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199859)

well, most likely the computers werent being used for anything else at the time. he was probably only running it in spare time.

Using close to 100% of processing resources would definitely increase overall power consumption for the computers in question. This would result in increased overall cost of operation.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (4, Informative)

MiniMike (234881) | about 1 month ago | (#47199895)

Many of those systems have no (or minimal) idle time. Also, this misuse caused them to consume more power, and increased the wear on the systems components. There was a real impact from this. The $150k indicates a lot of cpu time was consumed for this, but TFA doesn't indicate how much- certainly more than would have been 'spare time'.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199927)

$150K for computer time for a "supercomputer" that can't mine more bitcoin than it costs to operate? I kinda doubt it.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199995)

Where is it written that a "supercomputer" must be efficient and cheap to run?

FWIW, at this point, any "general use" computer is not efficient to mine bitcoin - it only makes sense to use custom-designed ASICs. Unless you get free power, then use as many CPUs and GPUs as you want, but even the cost of the hardware components is going to be pricey compared to your return.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 1 month ago | (#47200077)

A computer in your parents basement doesn't require dedicated facilities, cooling and maintenance staff.

Costs are not comparable.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 1 month ago | (#47200195)

look, if you could by computing centre supercomputer time for mining bitcoin at cost efficient price now then everyone would be doing it and it would no longer be cost efficient(increased pricing).

the only way it would have been cost efficient would have been to speculate with the pricing, in which case you could just have bought the bitcoin and speculate that way.

what the guy should have done would have been to do some test research that just happened to run some calcs that mined bitcoin.......

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200325)

$150K for computer time for a "supercomputer" that can't mine more bitcoin than it costs to operate? I kinda doubt it.

Have you actually given this any thought? To make your money back with bitcoin these days you pretty much need ASICs [wikipedia.org] and/or cheap or free energy.

ASICs designed for bitcoin mining are pretty much useless for any non-coin mining type of work, so they wouldn't be used for scientific computing. In fact, if a supercomputer were really good at mining bitcoin, I'd wonder if it was improperly designed, or if someone made some amazing algorithmic breakthrough that would push out of the market everyone using those particular ASICs. And then when the new algorithm was translated into new ASICs, they'd crowd the market again.

Free nonspecialized hardware and free energy also work, but are less efficient. This researcher essentially stole the use of hardware, energy, and time used to do the work. It makes complete sense that the result was inefficient.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | about 1 month ago | (#47200033)

The $150k is in "government numbers", ie total fantasy.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (5, Insightful)

iroll (717924) | about 1 month ago | (#47200053)

...because you buy time on modern supercomputers all the time, and can give us the real scoop, right?

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200129)

I may not buy supercomputer time, but I sell to the good ole' US of A's government quarterly. I promise, the OP is probably closer to the truth than you think. That 150k may have been only a day of sporadic use in total.

I know the radio portion of our software we sell for iOS, we charge over $800/yearly for per device license... Not including the support contract, the server software, the database software, the server support contract, the database support contract, the web ui software and matching support, the sharepoint connector and matching support, the Microsoft Lync connector and matching support....

I'm not saying the government pays a lot of money, but, my Porsche is blue.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200223)

The university I work at regularly has students assembling small clusters, using either used computers or new nodes to test out performance of new, off-the-shelf parts. A large part of this is for educational reasons, giving a small test bed for both hardware and software that the students have hands on experience before dumping students into a project that has limited time on large supercomputers. The cost of the equipment is not much more than what gamers spend on hardware, except for occasional esoteric interconnects, and the student's wage is essentially free compared to some higher ups. If we could simply scale this up instead of using the large supercomputers, and gotten more bang for the buck, we would have already done that (and for some smaller research projects, that is what they did as they didn't need larger computers).

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 1 month ago | (#47200339)

"That 150k may have been only a day of sporadic use in total."

That would make sense to me. Hell, 150K sounds more like a few hours.

Super computers are EXPENSIVE. A super computer is not just a tower with 30 gigs of ram and 10 processors, this is a building full of wires and computer components. I can just imagine the power draw on one. Hundreds of leading scientist crowd around them to hopefully get 30 minutes to run some computations.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about 1 month ago | (#47200729)

...because you buy time on modern supercomputers all the time, and can give us the real scoop, right?

It's a fantasy in as much as the police reporting the "bust" of 4.8m worth of pot, actual street value probably 80k. Or the MPAA/RIAA saying that piracy costs 70 trillion* in lost revenue every year.

*may or may not be true based on how well we can massage and fudge the fuck out of the numbers.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 1 month ago | (#47200869)

fudge the fuck out of the numbers.

As opposed to fucking the fudge out of the consumers.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (-1, Redundant)

Mashiki (184564) | about 1 month ago | (#47200941)

As opposed to fucking the fudge out of the consumers.

That comes *later.

*may or maynot include a reach-around, lube not provided.

Re: Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 1 month ago | (#47200189)

Well, a supercomputer is definitely not anywhere near as power efficient for mining bitcoin as a graphics card, let alone profitable mining hardware like ASICS, so at a minimum, he blew much, much more in taxpayer funded power/hardware wear than he profited.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200681)

No, not really. It is lost opportunity cost for the system - the user burned up CPU and I/O, likely, that exceeded the allocated budget for his group or department or research project. He just as easily could have been running a blitz Empire server or few, too.

the costs for the server are very real, but they're abstracted & billed out in a fashion much like AWS is billed out for EC2, etc.

Those servers are more or less running 24x7 at some degree of load, not a lot of idle time on them, so there is not really "increased wear and tear", just wear and tear that can't be charged back or billed to someone's budget now.

--source - used to work with academic computing systems.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47201081)

There is also the little detail where he did this entirely for personal monetary gain - (assuming the $150k is right) he stole $150k and bought himself 8k worth of hookers and blow (or whatever).

Power is a real concern too (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 1 month ago | (#47201127)

The amount of power supercomptuers take is IMMENSE. Like let's say he was using Stampede, the supercomputer at University of Texas. That thing draws 3 MEGAWATTS when fully spooled up. That is just what it draws, not what its cooling system takes, which could easily be another half a megawatt. Now we dunno what they pay for electricity precisely, but looking at industrial rates in Texas with the PUC it runs somewhere around the realm of $73/MWh. So running this thing for just one hour spun up costs $250ish. Just the raw power cost is a lot.

Now I'll grant you, it uses some of that at idle. However even if all the systems just drop to idle power, and it doesn't shut down unused nodes, it'll still easily be 10% of that based on what our Dell servers use (the system uses a bunch of Dell servers with Sandy Bridge Xeons in them).

So never mind CPU time costs, maintenance, wear, other research getting delayed, etc, which is all very real, pure power usage is a lot for a big supercomputer.

Power costs is something many coin miners never seem to factor in. They'll crow on about their "profits" but if they deduct anything, it is just hardware costs. They don't seem to bother to analyze how much power their computers are using to do the mining, and then further how much power is being used to cool those computers, if applicable.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

davmoo (63521) | about 1 month ago | (#47199907)

Electricity for the machines is not free. And supercomputers take a lot of that. Unless you have free electricity, bitcoin is at the point where its almost impossible to mine it and break even in less than 9 months to a year or so.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199987)

Yea, for example he could have been using that electricity to do global warming climate simulations!

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200063)

There are others who posted it, but free CPU on a large machine isn't free:

1: Electricity is a given.
2: Cooling, as the CPU use causes heat.
3: Denial of other tasks to run. I've seen use of "free CPU" before, but things like I/O channels can get saturated without a way to throttle it like CPU cycle usage.

The problem is that when people get nailed for stuff like this, it only causes problems in the future. It just means a H-1B will be hired next, because they are perceived as that they don't do sabotage or misuse resources.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (2)

Camael (1048726) | about 1 month ago | (#47200121)

Considering the great lengths he went to to mine bitcoins, I wouldn't bet on that.

From the report:-

The researcher misused over $150,000 in NSF-supported computer
usage at two universities to generate bitcoins valued between $8,000
and $10,000. Both universities determined that this was an unauthorized
use of their IT systems. The researcher asserted that he was conducting
tests on the computers, but neither university had authorized him to
conduct such 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.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200711)

Supercomputing clusters generally have sophisticated job queues for handling job request by thousands of users. In my experience (in NERSC and TACC), utilization is pretty high, and it can take hours or days for a job to make it through the queue, depending on many factors. I doubt ze was running only on truly spare nodes, since someone can usually find a use for them.

Re: Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 1 month ago | (#47200995)

Bingo. He was using a quota which said 'you can use X many nodes for this'. If he hadn't been using them, then they would've been allocated to finish other queued jobs faster (and its not like we're running out of protein folding work anytime soon).

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47201061)

"intensive mining took up about $150,000 worth of NSF-supported computer use"

Are you an idiot?

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 1 month ago | (#47199853)

Now if he was doing research into bitcoin and the mining of bitcoins, there might be a reason for him to have done that.
Of course the remote access and use of a mirror site in Europe rather points to it being illicit.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 1 month ago | (#47200081)

The bitcoins would then be the property of the university and he'd be charged with theft, not getting in trouble for misusing university resources.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 1 month ago | (#47200979)

Embezzlement sounds a reasonable charge to me but we don't have all the details of what was considered. Maybe he bargained the charge down to the equivalent of a "dishonorable discharge". $150K is about 2-3 man years of research wages, which sounds like a lot but is little more that a rounding error in the bigger picture, ~0.01 cents per American. He may also have personal problems, gambling/drug addiction, neither side would have much to gain from criminal proceedings unless the practice was rampant and they wanted to set an example.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199877)

It wouldn't be so bad if the guy was dumping the money back into the system to lower the burden on taxpayers. I am guessing that was not the case.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199921)

I'm just curious how much electricity he burned cpu mining bitcoins? Hopefully he was mining a cpu algorithm altcoin and converting that to bitcoin & not mining bitcoin directly. CPU,GPU, and FPGA mining bitcoins(directly) hasn't been profitable for like: over a year(once cost of electricity is considered). I mined scrypt coins on my employers cad machine for awhile(a couple days) but at 150kh/s it wasn't worth the hassle. I eventually bought a bunch of 7970s and made a super-cad/gaming computer. Altcoin mining paid for the graphics cards so I got several TFLOPS of GPUs for near free. Altcoins have gone all sorts of sketchy since the scrypt ASICs hit the market. I don't even bother any more. Scrypt-N, Darkcoin, etc. It's too much of a pain in the ass to liquidate the profits before the pump and dump scheme collapses.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1, Troll)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 1 month ago | (#47199985)

Seems no worse than what politicians do with our money.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200171)

Yet he'll be punished much more severely...

give them probation.... maybe felony if necessary (1, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 1 month ago | (#47200025)

I suspect you're joking but either way i hope they don't tag them w/ felonies just for this...the DA will surely pull some ridiculous damages figure but there's no reason to cripple good engineers forever w/ a felony for this

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200239)

In this economy, I would be surprised if they don't. There is a push for DAs to throw the book at even the smallest charges by the private prison lobby, and if the DA doesn't tag felonies, he or she will be out of a job, replaced by one that will.

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (2, Insightful)

iroll (717924) | about 1 month ago | (#47200247)

This is a felony. It's fraud and theft. Good engineers don't get fired for stealing 10% or less of what good engineers in the prime of their careers are making.

He didn't download a movie. He didn't copy that floppy. He appropriated a taxpayer resource to line his pockets.

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 1 month ago | (#47200669)

Given the low takings in relation to salery for someone in such a position, I suspect it may have been motivated as much by bragging rights or enthusiasm for bitcoin as direct profits. Sometimes you just want to impress people with your mining rig.

when Wall St. gets theirs... (0, Flamebait)

globaljustin (574257) | about 1 month ago | (#47200781)

This is a felony. It's fraud and theft.

boo fsking hoo

when the 1000s of asshats who caused the financial crisis are held accountable...all of them...THEN...your question would be valid

you're a pedantic shit

Re:when Wall St. gets theirs... (1)

iroll (717924) | about 1 month ago | (#47200829)

>somebody got away with something so nobody should get prosecuted for something different

GJGE

Re:when Wall St. gets theirs... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 1 month ago | (#47200897)

Are we supposed to ignore all "lesser" crimes while there are greater ones (even metaphorical ones) outstanding?

THEN...your question would be valid

GP didn't ask a question.

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (1, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 1 month ago | (#47200301)

there's no reason to cripple good engineers forever w/ a felony for this

Yeah, there is a reason to cripple a "good"* engineer forever with a felony for this - he committed a bloody felony.

*Presuming he's "good", something neither you nor I know... but misuse of someone else's property indicates that he has significant ethics problems, which argues against him being "good".

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200535)

So what if instead he was "human-mining" huntercoin (bitcoin spinoff that lets you mine coins by playing a game) on his desktop? Lets say he was just playing a normal game? How much is the supercomputer aspect of this important vs the profit aspect?

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 1 month ago | (#47200895)

First what-ifs are useless because they didn't happen.
Second it is not a profit issue. It is about stealing time that could be used for real research. Supercomputer time is a scarce resource and he misused it.

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47201119)

It seems it is not really a matter of "misusing someone else's property" that upsets you, rather it is misusing a scarce resource. Also, at VA hospitals it is a felony to use the email system to invite people to a birthday party.

Banks can't be homeless (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 1 month ago | (#47200807)

you're an idiot

look at you, using italics to make your point

he committed a **FELONY**

you're just arguing for a word b/c you're a social darwinist who gets off on other's suffering

when the US criminal justice system punishes the 2008 financial crisis and LIBOR perpetrators I'll entertain teh notion of this being a serious crime, even though I don't see it that way

people stealing from a bank...yes criminal but not **nearly** as harmful to society as a BANK stealing a HOME from a FAMILY

fsking idiot

Why pick and choose? (2)

Camael (1048726) | about 1 month ago | (#47200959)

when the US criminal justice system punishes the 2008 financial crisis and LIBOR perpetrators I'll entertain teh notion of this being a serious crime, even though I don't see it that way

I agree that the perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis and LIBOR scandal ought to be severely punished for all the human misery they caused, and personally I would be comfortable with sentences including capital punishment.

But that is that, and this is this. Are you seriously advocating that lesser crimes should be forgiven if there are bigger fish to fry? That people who misuse $150,000 of public funds to line their own pockets with $8,000-10,000 should get away with it because others have stolen millions/billions?

Quite frankly I don't see why it should be an either or proposition. Why not go after all of them?

I will also add that from the report, the miner doesn't sound like an angel worth defending at all :-

The researcher misused over $150,000 in NSF-supported computer
        usage at two universities to generate bitcoins valued between $8,000
        and $10,000. Both universities determined that this was an unauthorized
        use of their IT systems. The researcher asserted that he was conducting
        tests on the computers, but neither university had authorized him to
        conduct such 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.

Re:give them probation.... maybe felony if necessa (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200713)

Minor thing, but it's more likely a scientist than an engineer.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 1 month ago | (#47200151)

Not sure what world you think you live in, but this is the same with goverment anything. I know plenty of people that don't work IT for any goverment contract, too boring. No body works, everyone stands around the water cooler and gossips all day. I am saddened that you think that goverment anything wouldn't waste money.

Re:Throw the book... maybe literally at him. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200365)

Politicians are the lowest of the low who misuse taxpayer funds. They should be barred from life.
  But they get away with it because the police are cowards when it comes to prosecuting them.

Blame the cops. How convenient. (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 1 month ago | (#47200983)

Politicians are the lowest of the low who misuse taxpayer funds. They should be barred from life. But they get away with it because the police are cowards when it comes to prosecuting them.

Bit convenient ain't it, pushing all the blame to the police? It's their job to keep politicians clean, not your problem? What about the voters who keep electing the same dirty officials into office term after term? Not their fault, I'm sure.

Politicians elect their buddies to become police commissioners who then control the pay, promotions and advancement prospects of cops on the force. Cops are regular joes who have families to feed, mortgages to pay, retirement funds to worry about.

Do you know what happens to clean cops who try to expose corruption? They get shot at [wikipedia.org] . Watch the movie "Serpico" for the gory details. Think about what you are asking them to sacrifice, and what you have done before you mouth off about cowardice.

$150,000? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199839)

Is that figure just based on some arbitrary appraisal of the the machine's time or what?

Re:$150,000? (1)

NeumannCons (798322) | about 1 month ago | (#47199933)

One would hope that the cpu time cost of this supercomputer has been calculated. I.E. How much people are willing to pay for CPU time on similar machines. Or even how much the facilities cost to house and run this computer (power, cooling, operators, building costs, etc). How about total costs amortized over the expected lifetime of the machine?

Of course, we don't know how the cost was calculated and it was probably a number arrived at after appropriate hand waving. And then someone transcribed some numbers when jotting it down, and this is the "amount worth" published.

$150,000? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199951)

It's based on the rate that the owning entity (typically a university or the DoE) charges for time on it, which is (at least in theory) correlated with the machine's electric, AC (i.e. more electric) and ISP bills, the hardware manufacturer service and support contracts, and the price of the highly paid technicians and sysadmins who keep it working. All of these are nontrivial.

Re:$150,000? (1)

pla (258480) | about 1 month ago | (#47199983)

Is that figure just based on some arbitrary appraisal of the the machine's time or what?

This counts as a good question, why did it get modded out of existence?

$150k counts as a lot of electricity. Even at the current difficulty, I find it hard to believe someone could have used that much power to mine only $8k worth of BTC.

So how did they get that number? Prorated over the expected useful lifetime, so quite possibly one or two days of CPU time at 500 million dollars total depreciated over 18 months?

This doesn't change the shittyness of the crime, but let's not call a spade a "garden tool of mass destruction" here.

Re:$150,000? (1)

batkiwi (137781) | about 1 month ago | (#47200017)

He was likely doing CPU based mining. That would be expensive and inefficient compared to ASIC or even GPU mining.

Re:$150,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200051)

Many modern supercomputers are based on large numbers of GPU-like coprocessors with a relative few CPUs to coordinate them all. What he was doing was probably closer to GPU mining than any of the others.

Re:$150,000? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 1 month ago | (#47200139)

Even so, GPU-mining Bitcoins in 2014 is just pure lunacy.

Re:$150,000? (0)

rtb61 (674572) | about 1 month ago | (#47200585)

Here is a neat little story that explains it all and why individuals buying bit coin lottery machines are just plain nuts http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/... [guardianlv.com] . Crazy thinking along the lines of "Bitcoin enthusiasts believe Bitcoin will become the worldâ(TM)s reserve currency, replacing the dollar as the international medium of exchange, making them Bitcoin millionaires." often is promoted to hide the typical pyramid scam, which of course is the reality of bitcoin, early comers win and the later comers pay for it.

Re:$150,000? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200747)

Not really. In the systems I have used, the supercomputers are composed of a cluster of nodes, with each node containing several compute cores. Each compute core is basically equivalent and fully capable of general tasks.

Re:$150,000? (2)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200727)

No. This figure is probably based on the actual rates that the supercomputing facility charges to research projects. For example, look at:
http://www.nersc.gov/users/acc... [nersc.gov]

Anakin (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 1 month ago | (#47199857)

I would've liked to take first the high ground,

but since that ship has sailed,

wasn't this bound to happen once the electricity costs of bitmining begun to damage profitability? Perhaps even before the Peak Coin event, using electricity and the resources of others was attractive to a certain type of miner...

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47199915)

How could someone smart enough to be paid to work on supercomputers be stupid enough to think that the admins won't notice someone submitting 'mpirun -np 1024 mine_bitcoins.exe' or whatever equivalent this dirtbag did?

There was a reason I LOLed when my clueless parents asked me if I could run a bitcoin miner on our local supercomputer resources.

Small potatoes (0)

Patent Lover (779809) | about 1 month ago | (#47200007)

The NSA and defense contractors go through that kind of waste in milliseconds.

whoops (1, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 1 month ago | (#47200011)

I used to do funded networking work and this is one of the *first* things I thought when I heard about BTC...a friend who is a router R&D now and I talked all about it of course...never actually **did it**

I would have definitely put a miner bot in a broom closet next to a computer lab in a freshmen dorm or something...nowhere near our program's stuff, for alot of reasons

we just talked though...if my friend had took the time he'd be litterally rich right now...at least 6 figures b/c we were in school from 2008-2010

now, i sure hope they don't "throw the book at them"...I hope they don't get felonies unless unavoidable and either way no prison time...get them on a hardcore probation for 5 years....they can make your life hell now w/ electronic monitoring...let's keep these people out of prison if possible

Re:whoops (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 1 month ago | (#47200069)

now, i sure hope they don't "throw the book at them"...I hope they don't get felonies unless unavoidable and either way no prison time...get them on a hardcore probation for 5 years....

I think it should be a civil matter..... bill the researcher for the computer time intentionally misappropriated for non-work-related activities

This is really no different from an office worker abusing employer equipment for personal gain; e.g. long duration international calls to family placed on the employer's dime.

Re:whoops (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200797)

And why shouldn't an office worker embezzling from an employer be subject to criminal penalties? What is your distinction between a civil and criminal matter?

Proportionality and criminal intent (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 1 month ago | (#47201021)

And why shouldn't an office worker embezzling from an employer be subject to criminal penalties? What is your distinction between a civil and criminal matter?

Proportionality and criminal intent. In the case of the bitcoin miner, he stole the use of $150,000 worth of computer resources to make $8,000-$10,000 for himself. Most people will agree that these are not small sums and should be treated seriously, hence criminal penalties are due. In the example of the parent post of an office worker making long duration international calls to family paid by his employer, the sums are likely in the small hundreds at most and there was no intention to make money for himself.

You seem to be advocating a strict interpretation of the law, where all crimes are judged by the book. Most people would have a problem with that and instinctively understand that criminality is not a black or white matter. A child who steals a piece of gum should be treated differently from a hobo who steals bread to fill his stomach from a billionaire who steals from his employees' retirement fund, although technically all three acts are theft.

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200251)

I hope they don't get felonies unless unavoidable and either way no prison time...get them on a hardcore probation for 5 years....they can make your life hell now w/ electronic monitoring...let's keep these people out of prison if possible

~$150,000 worth of computer time/resources was stolen. This isn't a 'whoops, my bad': the researcher also made deliberate efforts to conceal his/her activity, according to the article.

Imagine if a bank employee had just taken an equivalent out of the universities' accounts and spent it. Would that not be enough for a felony, in your opinion?

NO (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 1 month ago | (#47200763)

Imagine if a bank employee had just taken an equivalent out of the universities' accounts and spent it. Would that not be enough for a felony, in your opinion?

it's **not analogous**

to answer your question (even though your analogy is hilariously tilted)...NO...IF IT IS AVOIDABLE

you assholes want to pass out felonies like candy...it's BS

Re:whoops (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 1 month ago | (#47200453)

now, i sure hope they don't "throw the book at them"

Would you feel the same way if he'd walked off with six figures worth of hardware rather than "computer time?"

Re:whoops (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 1 month ago | (#47200479)

The difference between talking about something and doing it is the difference between amusing talk and a crime. We've also talked about putting bitcoin miners in all the high power FPGAs we use for real time feedback. The thing is that we DIDN'T.

As far as the penalty - this is like any other theft of materials. There must be applicable laws.

Villain? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200013)

NO. This man is a hero for disrupting those rigged climate simulations confirming AGW. He wasn't in it for the money per se, it's just that mining bitcoin was simply the best way to do it. Plus, mining bitcoin had the added social benefit of further cracking the Rothschild edifice. Power to the people!

How awful!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200109)

I can't believe he used these supercomputers to make a profit! Those computers could have been put to an IMPORTANT use, like developing yet another model that proves Climate Change is 100% definitely destroying the planet and thus everybody's taxes should go up 15%.

Re:How awful!! (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 1 month ago | (#47200167)

He spent $150,000 to make $10,000. What profit?

Re:How awful!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200249)

He'll make it up in volume.

Re:How awful!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200269)

He spent $150,000 of other people's money to make $10,000 for himself. Pure profit. Its like congress setting their own salary: its free money.

Make profit; Get ahead (1)

RuffMasterD (3398975) | about 1 month ago | (#47200367)

This wouldn't even be news if it was the other way round, if he wrote an efficient algorithm and spent $10,000 to make $150,000. "Lets keep this one between us shall we. Which office do you want? Tenure? Sure, why not...". Lesson learned: make profit.

whose money was spent? (1)

l2718 (514756) | about 1 month ago | (#47200665)

This guy spent $150K of other people's money to make $10K for himself.

Re:whose money was spent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200731)

Don't see that as a valid complaint.

It's the same maths politicians do with your tax money ?.

Re:whose money was spent? (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 1 month ago | (#47201051)

Don't see that as a valid complaint. It's the same maths politicians do with your tax money ?.

When politicians spend public funds so that they receive money from third parties for themselves, its called receiving bribes. Most people would complain about it, and it can lead to criminal convictions [wikipedia.org] .

The problem is catching them with their hand in the cookie jar. Its hard to use the law to catch these guys when they have the power to change the law.

Re:How awful!! (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 1 month ago | (#47200859)

He spent 150k of someone else's money to make 10k for himself... Personally he spent 0 to make 10k, plenty of profit.

Re:How awful!! (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 1 month ago | (#47200893)

He stole $150k to make $10k profit.

Welcome to Washington, D.C. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200233)

Your tax dollars at work...

And then used it for Piracy (5, Funny)

high_rolla (1068540) | about 1 month ago | (#47200259)

And then imagine if he used that $8000 to buy a computer and an internet connection and downloaded a few pirated songs doing literally $trillions in damage.

My estimates are that he could easily have downloaded enough pirated content with that much internet to cause enough damage to bankrupt the entire world.

question (0, Troll)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 1 month ago | (#47200277)

Why is "mining for bitcoins" worth anything? Does the mining do anything like help SETI or share processing to crunch real world stuff?

If it has an intrinsic value, then I'd support helping the guy in the OP, but if it's seriously just a ponzi scheme - then I'd support law enforcement on taking it down.

Re:question (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 1 month ago | (#47200363)

Bitcoins are just like any other currency, no intrinsic value. And the onyl think that happens when you make new currency is use up resources.

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200483)

You clearly can't bother to do any reading on these things, and instead just resort to the "it's a ponzi scheme!" nonsense, even though that has been beaten into the ground already, so why should anyone bother wasting their time explaining it?

Re:question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200625)

The math for bitcoins is literally just wasting power trying to find a random number that gives you the results you are looking for.

Specifically, you combine the actual record of the bitcoin transactions with an arbitrary number and hash and check the result. You are looking for a result that is below a threshold. If you got a result below the threshold, congrats you just mined a bit coin. If not trying different arbitrary numbers until you get one that gets you below the threshold or someone else beats you to it. The way they make mining harder is by lowering that threshold so it will take more guesses.

This is still a simplification of things but is close enough. The following article covers it pretty well with out being too horrible technical.

http://www.michaelnielsen.org/ddi/how-the-bitcoin-protocol-actually-works/

Re:question (2, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 1 month ago | (#47200671)

It has exactly as much intrinsic value as the dollar: None. It has value only because people are willing to trade for it.

Not many people though, which is why the value fluctuates so wildly.

Re:question (0)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200777)

Wrong. I can wipe my ass with a dollar. I can't do that with bitcoin.

What a Noob. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200281)

Supercomputers are so last year. Do you even ASIC, bro?

Unethical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200331)

This guy is a piece of crap. He wasted so much taxpayer money with this little scheme, and for what? Less than 10% of the money actually spent. He belongs up there with the government officials that throw Gatsby-esque parties on someone else's dime.

Other than profit, difference from SETI@home? (1)

Shag (3737) | about 1 month ago | (#47200455)

I remember a decade ago when we'd install the SETI@home screensaver on every computer we could get our hands on. (Putting it on a Power Mac G5 and setting the machine to not go to sleep bumped my electric bill at home up 50% for a couple months.) I guess the difference here is that a profit is being made.

Re:Other than profit, difference from SETI@home? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 1 month ago | (#47200755)

Another difference is that we are talking about supercomputers [nersc.gov] here.

None. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200801)

I'm going to assume you mean your personal machines.

Installing SETI@home or any other such software on hardware you don't own and aren't paying for is just as reprehensible as mining for Magic Internet Money.

I suspect the dude's going to file for moral bankruptcy, so he doesn't have to cough up the feels to his debtors.

Jeeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200519)

Give them a warning, put a clause in the terms of use. Let everyone agree about it.

BTC 2.0 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200629)

Why we need BTC 2.0 ? For example BC (energy-efficient, Blockchain Security, Fast Transactions, Low Inflation)
http://www.blackcoin.co/

ON THE OTHER HAND (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 1 month ago | (#47200715)

I've walked through American Express' server farm (thus the AC) and saw the stupid Linux screen-savers, so they could be earning the idiotic BitCoin "loser-award for power consumption" award...

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