Airport employee in Italy caught mining Ethereum at work

Authorities in Italy have reportedly caught an airport staffer illegally using his workplace’s computer network to mine Ethereum (ETH), according to Italian news outlet Rai News.

The employee, who worked at the airport in the Italian city of Lamezia Terme, allegedly installed mining malware onto the airport’s IT systems. The employee was accused of setting up multiple on-premise mining rigs across two different technical rooms to take advantage of the airport’s IT infrastructure and electricity.  

The security breach occurred at a Sacal Global Solutions facility, the company in charge of managing the technical framework of airports in the Italian region of Calabria. The report adds that the 41-year-old airport technician’s actions put the airport’s backend computer systems at risk of an IT security breach. 

Other Sacal technicians discovered and reported the mining malware after being concerned by some anomalies. With the airport administrators’ collaboration, local authorities were then able to identify the culprit via security camera footage from the rooms. 

Lamezia Terme Public Prosecutor’s Office coordinated the investigation. They examined the IP addresses associated with the machines installed, identifying the “Ethermine” pool site. The criminal investigations continue to find out if any accomplices were involved in the crime.

The report does not mention how much the culprit earned from mining ETH nor reference how long the activity was up and running. Mining for digital currencies requires extensive power consumption that drives up utility bills. The action can be a profitable endeavor if one has the right resources available at the correct costs.  

The employee’s actions diverted computing power resources away from running the airport, which is illegal. The exact charges for this incident have yet to be released. 

As for Ethereum, it continues to show that its only utility is to facilitate criminal activities. Even Ethereum’s most ardent supporters are growing increasingly frustrated by the blockchain‘s decaying performance and high fees. This case is not the first incident of its kind.  

As long as the hobby project continues struggling with scaling, it will continue to be a magnet for cyber-criminals looking to capitalize on Ethereum’s artificially inflated market value. That ability to scale the blockchain project continues to elude developers as the controversial release of Ethereum 2.0 gets pushed further and further back.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream and Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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