Jonathan Khoo has been sentenced to 300 hours of community service in Australia. This is for mining cryptocurrencies with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) supercomputers.
Khoo, a former contractor for the Australian agency, used their supercomputers for mining cryptocurrencies (Monero and Ethereum) in 2018. He gained access to these supercomputers after they hired him as a contractor in January 2018.
Khoo got access to servers and systems to perform his role in data archiving and software support. He then used servers and supercomputers meant for undertaking a range of official scientific research for his own gain. He modified data within the systems without authorization for mining cryptocurrencies.
The former contractor pleaded guilty to charges of unauthorized modification of data to cause impairment before the Downing Centre Local Court.
His actions cost the agency $76,000 AUD ($55,400 USD) owing to lost productivity and misconfiguration. Khoo earned $9,400 Australian dollars ($6,850 USD) after mining making the entire operation a total loss.
Khoo got lucky being sentenced to 300 hours of community service as he risked being jailed for 10 years for the atrocity.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commander Cybercrime Operations, Chris Goldsmid, said Khoo diverted the supercomputer resources from undergoing significant research for the country.
“The consequences are clear this was a misuse of Australian taxpayers’ trust by a Commonwealth employee, motivated by personal gain and greed,” said Goldsmid.
Presiding Magistrate Erin Kennedy noted the effects of having a government research organization targeted by a rogue contractor. The magistrate said such actions could imply more harm on public resources if Khoo or another actor had more malicious intentions.
The culprit’s mining activities lasted a bit more than a month. His total earning was less than $10,000 AUD ($7,000 USD) which Worth’s the penalty he is getting. Considering how 300 hours of community service, Khoo’s crypto-mining journey earned him the equivalent hourly wage of $23.
Khoo’s sentence was 15 months’ imprisonment. But his sentence was to be served by way of an Intensive Community Order which includes 300 hours of community service.
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