Six Hundred high-performance computers worth around $2 million were stolen in a recent heist in Iceland. The computers were designed specifically for Bitcoin mining which means they’re powerful enough to mine any cryptocurrency. Police have arrested 11 people who they believe to have played a part in the heist, however, none of the stolen items have been retrieved yet.
Crypto mining has become very popular ever since the crypto market blew up in 2017. Many people have started investing in expensive mining rigs in order to mine cryptocurrencies. However, now most people can only mine altcoins because mining Bitcoin requires really expensive hardware which is why Bitcoin mining is reserved for large-scale firms only. Cryptocurrency mining is so popular nowadays that there is a shortage of gaming GPUs which has led to many frustrated gamers. Since the supply is so small, prices have tripled causing people especially gamers to suffer.
Therefore, not many people can afford computers that are able to mine cryptocurrencies. It seems that’s not a problem anymore as thieves stole not only the mining-ready computers but 600+ graphics cards, 100 processors, 100 power supplies, 100 motherboards and 100 sets of computer memory from a home as well. The machines stolen are estimated to be worth $2 million. However, that’s not what these thieves might have gone for. Bitcoin, as of this writing is worth $11,552. Thus, these machines are capable of generating a lot of money for the people using them.
The robbery itself has been dubbed as the “big bitcoin heist” by many and local police is calling it one of the largest thefts to ever occur in the country. A large majority of the tech was stolen from Icelandic server firm Advania which also caught the robbers on security cameras. The company had been offering customers access to its mining machines, something which the thieves must have taken advantage of.
“This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” NBC News reports a Reykjanes police commissioner, Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, as explaining. “Everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”
Authorities are now tracking energy consumption across Iceland in order to track down the thieves when they turn on the machines. Given that the machines require a lot of power to run and that they’re required to mine Bitcoin, they will leave a huge mark on the power grid. However, if the people that have been arrested by the police have played a hand in the robbery, then it might become more complicated to find the computers.
Crypto mining is rapidly increasing in countries like Iceland where electricity is cheap. Mining is a power-intensive process and one of the main criteria for selecting GPUs for mining is their power consumption. However, often a tradeoff has to be made sacrificing mining power in order to decrease electricity costs. With cheap electricity in Iceland, miners don’t have to make that tradeoff. Thus, it would explain why firms like Advania would set up in Iceland.
Cryptocurrency related thefts are becoming more and more common these days. Online hacks are the most common. There have been numerous reports of many firms and exchanges being attacked by a group of hackers resulting in a loss of millions of dollars worth cryptocurrency. However, a mining heist is one of the first of its kind. Stealing crypto mining computers wouldn’t give as many returns as an online attack would, then there’s the whole aspect of physically stealing everything. However, it seems the thieves in this particular case weren’t fazed by the risks and returns involved.
Although the police have found and arrested multiple individuals that are linked to the heist, it still hasn’t found the machines. Some of the individuals are still in custody and the investigations are underway. Whether the suspects are proven to be guilty remains to be seen. Let’s hope the machines are found soon.