Ex-Employee at Australian Science Agency Avoids Prison After Mining Crypto on Supercomputers

A former contractor for Australian science agency CSIRO was found to have mined around $7,000 in cryptocurrency.

AccessTimeIconSep 18, 2020 at 8:28 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:57 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

A former employee of an Australian federal agency has avoided prison after he was caught using government supercomputers to mine for cryptocurrency.

  • According to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday, Jonathan Khoo, 34, worked as a contractor for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
  • Between January and February 2018, Khoo implemented code in two supercomputers for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency for his own personal financial gain.
  • Khoo was able to mine ether and monero worth a reported A$9,420 (US$6,897), which he deposited into his own personal wallets.
  • The CSIRO estimated Khoo's illegal mining pursuits cost the agency A$76,668 (US$56,133) worth of computing power and other resources.
  • Magistrate Erin Kennedy handed Khoo a 15-month intensive correction order on Friday; he will serve out his sentence via 300 hours of community service plus counseling.
  • After being discovered in February 2018, Australian federal police issued a search warrant and arrested Khoo later that month, the report said.
  • His actions "diverted" valuable computing power resources away from "significant scientific research," federal police cybercrime operations commander Chris Goldsmid said, including "data array analysis, medical research and climate modeling work."
  • The disgraced employee's lawyer told the local court that Khoo had no prior offenses and was remorseful for his actions.
  • Magistrate Kennedy on handing down the sentence acknowledged Khoo's guilty plea, but noted it was significant the CSIRO had been targeted and said Khoo's sentence had to act as a general deterrent.
  • In Australia, the maximum penalty for the crime – unauthorized modification of data to cause impairment – carries a sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.


Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.