Given the surge in popularity of cryptocurrencies over the past few years, mining has become a seriously lucrative endeavor. All over the world miners have set up operations, big and small, as they look to capitalize on dwindling Bitcoin rewards from processing transactions and validating the blockchain.
With plenty at stake, the costs of setting up even a small operation can be hefty, from the actual hardware to cooling systems and electricity consumption. However, those with enough capital to buy the best hardware, namely ASIC miners, put themselves in a commanding position.
But that also makes them a target for criminals. Whether these crooks want to hack your system and steal your valuable cryptocurrency or make off with your physical hardware, the potential dangers are real.
The latter scenario grabbed headlines this month, as over 600 computers used to mine Bitcoin have been seized in China, valued at over $2 mln alone.
From Iceland to China?
The seized equipment is being linked to a series of thefts in Iceland late last year. Three separate incidents spanning from December to January led to a total of 600 computers being stolen by a number of culprits.
Icelandic IT firm Advania produced surveillance footage of thieves stealing computers from a data center in Reykjanesbær in January, which positively identified the two men that were in custody, according to local news outlet Visir.
Icelandic authorities are still waiting on their Chinese counterparts to respond to their requests for collaboration. If and when they do, it shouldn’t be difficult to link the computer equipment at the very least. Given that the computers were stolen from Advania’s data center, it’s almost certain that the serial numbers of components will be available.
This could then be cross-checked with the computers seized in Tianjin to positively link the hardware. While the owners of the hardware will no doubt be pleased to recover their property, the investigation has the potential to uncover a nefarious crime syndicate.
Icelandic police commissioner Olafur Helgi Kjartansson was quoted saying, “This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” adding that it was a “highly organized crime”. With numerous suspects being investigated in both China and Iceland, authorities have the chance to apprehend criminals that are preying on the cryptocurrency community.