A junior banker in Italy hijacked servers from his company to mine bitcoin - and thousands of others are doing similar things
- Darktrace CEO: 1,000 cases of staff taking over company computers to mine bitcoin in the US over the last 6 months.
- In one instance, a junior Italian banker stole 12 servers to mine bitcoin.
LONDON - Thousands of staff are stealing computing power from their employers in order to mine bitcoin, according to a top cybersecurity CEO.
Nicole Eagan, the CEO of Darktrace, told attendees at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council event: "We have seen 1,000 crypto-mining cases in the last six months in the US alone with employees taking over company infrastructure for crypto mining. This is becoming a big problem."
Crypto mining is the process by which new bitcoins are created and involves solving complex cryptographic problems. The computing power required to crack these problems has grown exponentially since the creation of bitcoin in 2009 and it now takes huge banks of servers to crack codes. Online mining "pools" have sprung up that allow people to plug their computer capacity into digital networks and earn a share of the collective rewards.
Eagan said her company had come across one instance where a junior banker at an unnamed Italian bank had actually stolen servers that he had signed for on behalf of his company.
"He had taken 12 of these and hidden them under the floorboards in the data centre of the bank and then set up his own crypto mining range," Eagan said. "This went undetected for some period of time. Luckily we actually detected it because there were these unusual connections going outside the bank to these crypto mining places."
Darktrace is a cybersecurity company that works with the likes of BT, the Scottish government, the City of Las Vegas, and European power plant giant Drax.
Robert Hannigan, the director of Britain's government cybersecurity agency GCHQ from 2014 to 2017, appeared alongside Eagan on the panel in London on Thursday.
He said: "People are doing what they've always done in the criminal world, which is to harness unsecured processing power from around the world. We see it all the time in botnets - using your network or your personal computer to do work for them at night if it's not secured."
Last year security intelligence group RedLock found at least two companies had their AWS cloud services compromised by hackers who wanted nothing more than to use the computer power to mine the cryptocurrency bitcoin.