Florida State Employee Arrested for Mining Cryptocurrency on Agency Infrastructure

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According to a statement published by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), a worker at the Department of Citrus was found using state-owned computing hardware to mine cryptocurrencies. The perpetrator, Matthew McDemott, served as the information technology manager for the department, which overlooks the functioning of the citrus industry in Florida.

The FDLE detained McDermott shortly after the discovery and had him transported to the Polk County jail. The cryptocurrency mining operation was detected after an evaluation of the department's utility bill amounts.

Mining refers to the act of verifying of trades within the network of a cryptocurrency. The FDLE also attempted to explain the motives of McDermott, stating,

«A mining pool, or team, can be used to solve mathematical equations in an effort to mine the digital currency and win a reward. The pool combines its resources to help offset costs.»

Government owned computational resources have actually been the target of clandestine cryptocurrency mining operations for quite a long time now. Given that computers in certain state-owned facilities are very powerful because of the workload they need to handle, people are often tempted to use them for self gain. Just a few days ago, for instance, the Louisiana Attorney General spanned several IT workers after they were found guilty of using government computers to mine bitcoin.

In February 2018, a BBC report also disclosed that hackers had recovered a cryptocurrency mining script into the Information Commissioner's Office website.

The United States isn't alone in its battle against unauthorized use of its computers for cryptocurrency mining. In accordance with another BBC report, many Russian nuclear scientists have been arrested following the discovery of the plot to mine bitcoin in a top-secret nuclear warhead centre in Sarov, Russia.

In most cases, the penalty for using government funds for personal gain is not very severe in any respect. However, in this instance, Matthew McDermott also used a state purchasing card to obtain additional mining hardware worth $22,000. The money was reportedly used between July and December 2017 to buy 24 graphic processing units according to the Florida law enforcement agency. Because of the extended nature of his offense, McDermott has been charged with grand theft in addition to official misconduct and had his bail set at $5,000.