A former government contractor in Australia has avoided jail time after being caught using state-owned supercomputers to mine cryptocurrency. 

According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, a former CSIRO employee was charged with using government supercomputers to mine cryptocurrency and in the process deprived “sensitive scientific projects” of processing power. 

The employee, Jonathan Khoo, worked as a contractor for the Australian government’s scientific research agency between January and February 2018. The report claims Koo installed code on two supercomputers that allowed him to harness processing power in order to mine crypto-assets for personal financial gain. 

Khoo, 34, generated more than $9400 worth of cryptocurrency, which he deposited into ethereum and monero wallets. CSIRO estimates the hijacking of the supercomputers for mining cost the agency $76,668 in computing power and other resources. 

Federal Police cybercrime operations commander Chris Goldsmid said Khoo’s conduct breached the public’s trust in the government. 

He said, 

This man’s activities diverted these supercomputer resources away from performing significant scientific research for the nation, including pulsar data array analysis, medical research and climate modelling work.

Khoo, a resident of Sydney, was sentenced to a 15-month intensive corrections order including 300 hours of community service and counseling. 

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