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PSA: Don't mine cryptocurrency on government computers

Two employees at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology may have learned this the hard way.

Symbol image digital currency, gold physical coin bitcoin on keyboard
Michael Weber/Getty

Australian Federal Police are investigating two government workers for allegedly using government computers to mine cryptocurrency.

The ABC reports two IT employees at Australia's national weather agency, the Bureau of Meteorology, have been questioned by Australian Federal Police. According to the ABC, one of the employees has gone on leave since being questioned. 

The investigation comes after officers executed a search warrant on the government agency's head office on Feb. 28. The Australian Federal Police confirmed it executed the warrant but declined to comment further. 

The process of generating cryptocurrency -- known as mining -- is not illegal, but it is incredibly power hungry, thanks to the complex computational processes it requires.

It's not the first time the Bureau of Meteorology has faced questions over security. In 2016, the Australian government's cyber security centre revealed the Bureau had been hacked by foreign spies who stole an "unknown quantity of documents." In February this year, the ABC also reported the Bureau's website was running ads that linked out to fake news sites promoting bitcoin scams.  

Questions are now being asked about how staff at a government agency would be able to run a cryptocurrency mining operation undetected, and whether the weather agency will weather another security scandal.

The Bureau of Meteorology declined to comment.