Bitcoin has enjoyed a lot of popularity in the news recently, with the volatility of the cryptocurrencies worth and the passion of the dedicated fan-base ensuring constant front-page attention. As with any potentially immensely profitable pursuit, Bitcoin mining has recently entered an age where theft of computer mining farms is not only a risk, it is an inevitability. This has been the case in Iceland recently, where thieves stole 600 powerful computers specifically designed to act as dedicated miners, worth around $2 million in total. In fact, this might indicate the risk of a much greater trend.
Stealing computers is generally not a simple task. They can be unwieldy and their multitude of cables make them a pain to manage. To steal 600 of them at once, even if they were standardised and set in an efficient array, is a time consuming and physically difficult task, yet one which the thieves in question managed to pull off.
The reason for this lies in the market itself, and the difficulty which cryptocurrency enthusiasts face when attempting to generate, or mine, a currency of their own. While the initial stages of a cryptocurrency allow for the relatively simple mining of these coins, an increasing user and miner-base mean that each following coin will prove slightly more difficult and time-consuming to unearth. This is why these Bitcoin server farms exist in the first place, as for any individual or group to realistically make a profit from mining Bitcoin today requires a coordinated effort among hundreds of active computer systems.
“Hacker stealing information” (CC BY 2.0) by cafecredit
This is further aided by the fact that these systems often include powerful graphics cards, which are some of the best-dedicated calculator pieces which can work with cryptocurrency mining software. In fact, there have been hardware shortages reported recently for gamers which have come about by cryptocurrency miners buying all the stock for which they were not ostensibly built.
A Modern Problem
As Bitcoin still enjoys a huge worth, it is very likely that this type of theft will be repeated in the future. While in the case, some 11 people were arrested for the crime, there are other types of Bitcoin illegality which prove more difficult to detect. Specifically, malware based Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency miners are becoming increasingly popular, sneaking their way onto devices and using a portion of the computing power to send fractions of coins back to the end user. Thankfully, in cases like these, there are many antivirus programs which can protect the user, and there are plenty of review sites to help you read more…
In the case of physical thefts, like this one, then the thieves have a real problem in long-term anonymity simply owing to the nature of these large-scale computer systems. For one thing, cryptocurrency mining requires an enormous supply of electricity, so simply relocating the involved devices would allow authorities to track their location through checks of local power draws. In the case that these are stripped for parts, as you might see in a vehicular chop-shop, there still remains an issue of serial numbers and hardware signatures which need to be removed one-by-one.
Of course, as this sort of theft becomes better known within the criminal world, it is only natural that there will be solutions to these problems discovered and enacted. Another piece of tech to worry about losing, so if you are the type to engage in any type of mining beyond small-scale, we would recommend keeping that information to yourself and using a developed security system.