Why steal Bitcoin from an exchange when when you can just go to the source and steal the machines that make it instead.
In recent years and months there’s been a real upsurge in the number of cyber criminals hacking and stealing from crypto-currency exchanges; but not everyone can put in the time it takes to be a true-blood hacker.
So it should probably come as no surprise that thieves in Iceland have taken a new direction and stolen around 600 computers that were being used to mine bitcoin and other assorted crypto-currencies.
The theft, from several data-centers located in Iceland, took place in four separate (although most likely perpetrated by the same people) break ins through December 2017 and January of this year.
11 and counting
Police in Iceland have been investigating the crimes since the first computer heist last year, but deliberately kept it quiet until recently. Eleven people in total have now been arrested, including a data-center security guard. It’s big news in Iceland, and Icelandic media have dubbed it the “Big Bitcoin Heist”.
A judge at the Reykjanes District Court last Friday ordered two people charged in the case to remain in custody.
While authorities have identified and arrested the individuals they believe to be responsible for the heist, the computers themselves are still unaccounted for.
“This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, a police commissioner, told the AP. “Everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”
Those crazy Icelanders. Is that what they do during the long dark nights of the Northern Winter, mine bitcoin? Well, no… But the cold climate and and the way Iceland generates huge amounts of its electricity lends itself to the cheap and efficient running of data-centers, and especially crypto mining.
Mining bitcoin successfully, takes a lot of computers and usually lots and lots of electricity.
Large bitcoin enterprises have been flocking to Iceland in recent months to take advantage of the country’s expansive geothermal and hydroelectric power plants.
According to the Washington Post, Iceland produces around 80 percent of its power through hydroelectric plants that utilize hydrothermal vents.
Are these 600 computers yours, sir?
Police tracking the stolen computers are now closely monitoring electricity consumption across the country for any unusual spikes or surges in power.
The practicality of setting up a mining a system in Iceland with 600 stolen computers seems all but impossible, especially in a country that only has a population of just under 340,000.
However one rumor currently working its way across some forums is that the theft of the mining computers may have been more about some mining conglomerations attempting to put rivals at a competitive disadvantage by removing their ability to mine crypto-currencies.