In a bizarre turn of events, a clandestine cryptomining operation was discovered winding its way through the corridors and ventilation ducts of a Polish court, leading to a police intervention.
The rig unearthed, highlights vulnerabilities within the institution’s security framework. Discovered in September, the mining operation had gone undetected for an undisclosed duration. The criminals strategically avoided detection by connecting their secured computers to the internet through independent modems rather than the court’s network.
The potential magnitude of the theft raises concerns, with estimates suggesting losses of thousands of Polish Zlotys monthly. Authorities remain uncertain about the exact duration of the illegal operation, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation. The court, swift in its response, terminated its contract with an IT maintenance company within two weeks of discovering the rig. The company, in turn, dismissed two employees responsible for maintaining the areas housing the cryptomining setup.
Poland’s Internal Security Agency and the Warsaw District Prosecutor’s Office have joined forces to investigate the incident. IT experts have been engaged to determine the extent of electricity pilfered from the Supreme Administrative Court in Warsaw. While the court specializes in handling sensitive business and tax disputes, no compromise of records has been reported.
Cryptomining schemes targeting public institutions for illicit electricity consumption are not unprecedented. Such operations often exploit “less visited places” or operate during off-hours to avoid detection. The Polish case echoes a similar incident in the US, where a cryptomine was discovered in a Massachusetts high school’s basement crawl space, powered by 11 computers allegedly running continuously for eight months.
In this case, a former employee faced accusations of vandalism and stealing over $17,000 in electricity. Investigations revealed the use of Home Depot materials and the suspect’s social media posts emphasizing cryptocurrency interests. The outcome of this case remains undisclosed as of June 2023, with the accused pleading not guilty after resigning from his position.
The Polish cryptomining discovery underscores the ongoing challenges institutions face in safeguarding against technologically sophisticated threats and the imperative for heightened cybersecurity measures.