Louisiana’s attorney general Jeff Landry has reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the IT department of his own office amid allegations that a group of former staffers used state resources to mine bitcoin.
In September, the attorney general’s office fired its IT director and a half-dozen employees after discovering a “hardware that they believed could have been used in the so-called mining of bitcoin.” No charges have been filed as of yet, but Landry confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing.
It’s unclear exactly what equipment prompted the concerns, but the employees maintained state resources was not being used for personal gain. Three of the fired employees said they wouldn’t have been able to use agency’s computers because they are simply not powerful enough. Additionally, the massive amount electricity that would be used to power the systems would have been easily detectable by officials.
Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) questioned the office’s former IT director about staffers having discussed, via email, a “logic bomb” — a conversation that alarmed state officials. A logic bomb is a line of code that triggers malicious activity in a computer system after a certain amount of time elapses, or after some other condition is met.
The FBI didn’t acknowledge wether they actually discovered any malware in the state’s systems, and the former IT director told the authorities he had no knowledge of a logic bomb being introduced.
In Jaunuary 2017, a former employee of the Federal Reserve Board of Directors has been fined $5,000 and put on probation after being caught mining bitcoin on a server owned by the US central bank. Later that year, an employee of New York City’s Department of Education has been disciplined after being caught mining bitcoin on his work computer.
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