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How CSIRO Computers Were Secretly Used To Mine Bitcoin

An IT contractor has faced a Sydney court, charged with using computer systems at Australia’s elite science agency to secretly mine cryptocurrency for his own personal gain.

Federal police allege 33-year-old Johnathan Khoo pocketed around $9,000 by abusing his position to manipulate computer programs at the CSIRO.

The mining operation allegedly involved using the processing power of the government agency’s computers.

Mining for cryptocurrency is usually not a profitable exercise, due to the large amount of electricity “miners” need to use to power their computers.

Khoo was arrested on March 5, when AFP officers raided his home in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Killara.

They seized a personal laptop, mobile phone, employee ID cards and data files.

Johnathan Khoo. PhotoL Facebook

Khoo faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

In a statement, the AFP’s Acting Commander of Cybercrime Operations Chris Goldsmid said the abuse of public office is a very serious matter.

“Australian taxpayers put their trust in public officials to perform vital roles for our community with the utmost integrity”, he said.

“Any alleged criminal conduct which betrays this trust for personal gain will be investigated and prosecuted.”

On its website, CSIRO says it “solves the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology”.

READ MORE: The Bitcoin Bubble Has Burst But How Far Will It Fall?

With an annual budget of more than a billion dollars, the agency is responsible for the invention of fast wifi, Aerogard and polymer banknotes.

Khoo faced Sydney’s Downing Centre Court on Tuesday on charges of unauthorised modification of data to cause impairment and unauthorised modification of restricted data.

He entered a plea of not guilty and will face court again on July 16.