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By Bruce Sussman
Thu | May 23, 2019 | 10:38 AM PDT

What if you could make thousands of dollars mining cryptocurrency while you are at the office—and your company pays for the electricity?

It sounds tempting at first, but it could lead to jail time. And the latest example of this comes from the land down under.

Australian investigators say they busted a government IT contractor for doing the following: 

... abused his position as an IT contractor to manipulate programs to use the processing power of the agency’s computer network for crypto currency mining. The profits from the alleged mining operation are estimated to be worth more than $9,000.

The Australian Federal Police have not named the 33-year IT guy, however, they say he now faces jail time. The maximum sentences for his charges add up to 12 years in prison.

That's a lot of time for not much dime.

Australian Federal Police Acting Commander Chris Goldsmid, who is Manager of Cybercrime Operations, said this is viewed as an abuse of public office:

“Australian taxpayers put their trust in public officials to perform vital roles for our community with the utmost integrity. Any alleged criminal conduct which betrays this trust for personal gain will be investigated and prosecuted."

Cryptomining at work: more than just stealing electricity

Yes, cryptomining at work is stealing electricity. And yes, it is stealing computing power that could slow other business processes.

However, it goes beyond this. Security blogger Graham Cluley sums it up nicely:

"Installing cryptomining software onto a computer whose primary purpose is to perform another task opens the system up to potential problems.

Even before you consider the possibility that malware or vulnerabilities may be introduced onto a computer, there is also the risk of incompatibilities and bugs that may cause systems to stop operating properly."

[RELATED: Finally: Cybersecurity Scores for Cryptocurrency Exchanges]